Demarcus Robinson, the talented but oft-suspended Gators receiver, compares himself to Sammy Watkins and Odell Beckham Jr.
But those players were early first round NFL draft picks. Robinson is projected as a late round choice and he understands the reason.
The number four stands out before his name. He’s been suspended four times at the University of Florida — three times for failing marijuana tests as a freshman and a fourth as a junior in 2015 for meeting with a marketing official.
Robinson swears he’s a changed man, and said he’s been clean since his freshman year. He admitted to once spending 45 days in drug rehab at the Florida Recovery Center at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. He said he did it to prove to coaches and teammates that he was taking his suspensions seriously.
“It was a long time,” Robinson said of his month and a half in rehab. “I knew I had to do something to let my teammates and let my coaches know I wouldn’t do it again. I was doing whatever I had to do to let them know that wasn’t me. What I was doing was selfish and was wrong of me.
“I wasn’t really relying on drugs. I just knew I had to prove to my coaches I really wanted to be on the team. I had to take on some consequences for doing the actions that I did and that was one of the consequences — going to rehab.”
Robinson knows the off-the-field issues have hurt his draft stock and he said he’s an open book with NFL teams during scouting combine interviews.
“Sammy Watkins, I kind of focus my game around him and Odell — I feel we got the same size, similar speed, somewhere around there,” Robinson said. “I consider myself a first round talent. I know I had some issues that can hold me back. But I’m just going to go out here in the combine and give it my all.
“I’m just going to try to prove people wrong and let them know that I changed but I’m still the same — that I’m a really good athlete.”
Robinson’s uncle, Marcus Robinson, was an NFL receiver from 1997-2006 and scored 43 career touchdowns.
Robinson said he’s learning a lot from his uncle about preparing for the pros.
“I’m focusing on myself more, watching film,” he said. “I used to focus more on the defense and not myself. Now he’s like, ‘When you get to the NFL it’s going to be more 1-on-1 and you need to focus on what you’re doing yourself so the defense doesn’t know what you’re doing.’ “
Robinson wouldn’t blame UF’s offensive struggles during his tenure on a rotating group of average quarterbacks.
“We had some issues here and there,” he said. “We’re a team — we win and we lose. It wasn’t all the quarterbacks’ fault. It wasn’t all my fault. Sometimes we couldn’t get the ball there, sometimes the linemen messed up, sometimes I messed up, sometimes the quarterback messed up.”