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Tyrese Robinson Q&A
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OU offensive lineman talks football
Last season, Oklahoma's offensive line was one of the biggest reasons why the Sooners won 12 games and captured a fourth straight Big 12 Conference title. So good, in fact, was Bill Bedenbaugh's crew -- made up of All-Americans Dru Samia and Cody Ford, and All-Big 12 selections Bobby Evans and Ben Powers, along with Creed Humphrey anchoring the center position -- that it earned the Joe Moore Award, presented annually to the best offensive line in college football.
Tyrese Robinson had a birds-eye view of just how dominant OU's starting five was during another successful run to the College Football Playoff, while working and playing in the shadow of Samia at right guard.
"It was a great learning experience watching and practicing with those guys, especially Dru -- because he was such a competitor," said Robinson, who stepped into Samia's starting spot this season.
After redshirting his freshman season, Robinson continued to learn and develop under Bedenbaugh's tutelage in 2018, eventually earning playing time in six games for the Sooners.
Originally from Kansas City, Robinson was in junior high when he moved with his family to McKinney, Texas. That is when he began to develop his football skills on his way to becoming a much sought-after offensive line prospect at Boyd High school.
Everyone figured the 6-foot-3, 320-pounder would end up at Texas, but Robinson had other ideas. Instead, he fell in love with OU and Norman, and he's spent the last two-plus seasons working his way into the starting lineup.
Sooner Spectator caught up with Robinson after a recent practice and got him to share his thoughts on the OU-Texas rivalry and how he ended up at OU.
SoonerSpectator: Growing up in two different places, did you have a favorite college team or teams that you followed?
Tyrese Robinson: When I was younger, not really. But after we moved to Texas when I was in the seventh grade -- the second half of my life -- it had to be the University of Texas or Texas A&M. A lot of my friends were Longhorn fans and that’s what you hear and see the most when you live down in that area, so it's kind of natural to follow those teams.
SS: Did you know much about Oklahoma or the Sooners during that time?
Robinson: Early on in high school, I got hooked up with Brandon Braxton, who played for Oklahoma (2005-08). So while I was training with him, I was around some former OU players and heard stories and things like that about the Sooners. So I learned a lot about the program then, and when it was time for me to take my visits here, those things really helped me understand OU better.
SS: What was it that made OU feel like it was the right place for you instead of Texas which had recruited you, as well?
Robinson: Charlie Strong was the coach at Texas at the time, and I was cool with him. But when he left and they brought in a new head coach (Tom Herman), I just didn’t see eye to eye with him. I had taken multiple visits to OU and I really became close to some of the players and coaches during that process. I had seen how Coach Bedenbaugh had developed players during his time at OU, and I knew that was what I wanted as a player. Ultimately, I just felt there was a great opportunity for me here at Oklahoma.
SS: Playing at Boyd High School in McKinney, you were basically less than an hour from the Cotton Bowl. Did you pay any attention to the OU-Texas games?
Robinson: Not a whole lot, at least not until I got invited to attend the game when I was in high school. I was 15 or 16 at the time, and it was a great experience. It was hot. I’ll always remember that.
SS: When you were a freshman at OU, did you get to attend the game with the team?
Robinson: Yes, I did. I was dressed with the team and got to be on the bench, and it was intense. To be honest, that whole experience had me looking into the future and thinking about what it would be like when it was my time to play on that stage. All of the young guys know about the history of that game and how it should be played. I learned a lot of that from Dru and those guys, so that’s a part of being a Sooner.
SS: What about the 2018 season when you were a redshirt freshman at the OU-Texas game?
Robinson: I felt like I was that much closer to actually playing in the game. I got a few touches early in the season against FAU, Baylor and Kansas State, so yeah, it was definitely a different experience at the Cotton Bowl. It was that much more exciting.
SS: OU lost that regular season game against Texas but bounced back to beat them in the Big 12 title game. How sweet was it to be a part of that?
Robinson: It was crazy exciting. We just didn't play how we wanted to play in that first game, and it cost us. But we weren't going to let that happen again, and we were ready for them at the Big 12 Championship game. To win that game and go to the playoff was amazing.
SS: How much did you learn from Dru, Ben, Bobby and Cody during your time together, and what did you take from watching them and how they did things?
Robinson: I think mostly I saw their work ethic and how they competed every single day in practice or in games. It was great being around Dru because he was very technique savvy, and I learned so much from the way he approached things and played the game. I look forward to proving myself worthy of that right guard legacy that Dru and others have established.
SS: Will you have a lot of family and friends at the Cotton Bowl for this year’s game?
Robinson: Yes. I definitely will. I grew up in Kansas City for a few years, but I've got a lot of family in Texas -- in Paris, Bonham and some in Dallas. I'm very excited to have the chance to play in my first OU-Texas game. I know I'm going to be nervous coming down that tunnel and probably on that first series. But it's going to be so much fun. It’s a game with such great history and tradition. It's one of the reasons why you play this game.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Sept/October issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)