Georgia graduate assistant coach spurns NFL tryout

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday August 19, 2013


Most athletes dream of the chance to play professionally. So it’s unusual for a young man to spurn an opportunity to join an NFL organization in favor of a serving as a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater

Christian Robinson has known for a while that he wanted to be a coach. Recently hired as a GA at Georgia, he had a choice to make when he came off the field on Aug. 9 and looked at his phone.

It was his agent. Another NFL team was inviting him for a tryout. But Robinson turned it down, choosing to stick in Athens. He already had his shot at playing, and he had moved on.

Robinson played in 51 games (17 starts) over his time as a linebacker at Georgia from 2009-12. He went undrafted, but signed with the St. Louis Rams. When he didn’t make the camp roster. He took advantage of an opportunity to return to Georgia as a coach. When another NFL team (which he didn’t want to name publicly) called two weeks ago, Robinson felt the risk wasn’t worth stopping the beginning of his coaching career.

“It’s hard to make a team to begin with,” Robinson told CoachingSearch.com. “When I went to St. Louis to try and make it, that was a sign that said, if I didn’t make it here, most rosters are probably being formed. They’ve got their guys they like already. After that, I probably wasn’t going to be able to make a team. Not from a physical standpoint, but just because they already had guys in going through the process, just like I had for the Rams. Once that was over, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to go back and start coaching. I had a job offer from Georgia to come back.

“Fast forward two months later into fall camp I get a call from a team. They wanted me to come try out after they’ve already been in camp for a week and a half. It definitely made me feel better, knowing there were still teams out there that wanted me to try. But ultimately, I made a commitment to Georgia. They stuck with me. They could have hired somebody else. This is the place I want to be.

“These teams cut 37 guys by the start of the season. Why would I go and just get thrown in my bunch when they’ve had guys that have been training all summer? I was just being realistic. I have a great job here and I want to stay here. This is my Georgia family.”

Defensive coordinator/ outside linebackers / associate head coach Todd Grantham and Mark Richt had talked with Robinson about being a GA during his time as a player. The job offer wasn’t out of the blue. Coaching was something Robinson had long thought about. His father, Ken, is head coach at Providence Christian Academy, just outside Atlanta.

Georgia had given Robinson the opportunity to get into coaching with them whether or not he made a team out of rookie camp. He didn’t want to compromise what he had.

“They all knew that I wanted to stay in football,” Robinson said. “The way I’ve prepared and practiced here, I understood what we were doing. While I was on the field, I was able to get guys lined up. I guess they saw that and took interest.

“When the time came, they had an opening and said they wanted me to stay, even before I went to St. Louis. They said I could be back here after rookie mini camp, or if I made a team and got cut in summer, I could come back in January. I was just thankful for Coach Richt and Coach Grantham for giving me that chance.”

(Photo courtesy of UGA sports communications)

Chris Vannini is in his fourth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris lives in the Metro Detroit area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.