Tyrell Robinson was at Fresno State for one season in 2014, transferring from Oregon with a Power Five-level skill set and athleticism and spending a year on the Bulldogs’ scout team at a number of positions while sitting out per NCAA transfer rules.
Then he was gone – dismissed for violations of athletic department policy without playing a game.
But the 6-foot-4, 200-pound outside linebacker is back, readmitted to school after a year at a Mississippi community college.
Robinson, a walk-on with the Bulldogs, was in practice Wednesday morning and participated in drill work.
Hopefully this will be a great life lesson for him that talent alone doesn’t get you things. Hard work, daily effort, doing things right will.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter on Tyrell Robinson
“He has had quite the journey and he still has some miles to go before he will see the field, but I like the fact that he got knocked down and he has picked himself up, dusted himself off, and is going to give it one more try,” coach Tim DeRuyter said.
“He’s coming back as a walk-on. He’s going to try to earn a scholarship back. He has the physical tools to do it, but hopefully this will be a great life lesson for him that talent alone doesn’t get you things. Hard work, daily effort, doing things right will, and we’re going to give him an opportunity to do that.”
As a senior at Lincoln High School-San Diego, Robinson made 111 tackles, including 12.5 sacks, and was selected to play in the Semper Fidelis All-American Game.
Robinson is not likely to be eligible to play this season. According to sources, he must meet NCAA progress-toward-degree requirements to gain his eligibility. But he will have a senior year in 2017 with a lot of ability and plenty to prove on the field.
Once Robinson donned a helmet and practice jersey this week, he was off limits to the media. DeRuyter does not allow freshmen and incoming transfers to talk to reporters until the athletes have played in a game. While attending a practice last week, Robinson made it clear he was thankful to have a chance to return to Fresno State but declined an interview, not wanting to do anything that was not first approved by DeRuyter or would jeopardize his chances to be readmitted to school.
This season, Robinson could help the offensive and defensive scout teams as he did in 2014 when lining up at running back, tight end and outside linebacker.
The Bulldogs, DeRuyter said, would like to start getting him into their defense rather than replicating opposition plays on the scout team. A pairing of James Bailey and Robinson at the Sam and Joker outside linebacker spots would be a formidable duo.
Sophomore James Bailey and senior Brandon Hughes are working with the Bulldogs’ No. 1 defense at outside linebacker this fall.
As a freshman at Oregon in 2013, Robinson played nine games and was in on 12 tackles. Last season at Holmes Community College in Goodman., Miss., he played in eight games and was credited with 28 tackles, including three sacks and five tackles for loss for a minus-60 yards.
Robinson has the ability and now the opportunity to make a significant impact.
“To me, that’ll be icing on the cake if he can,” DeRuyter said. “I just want him to be in a situation where he’s got the opportunity to pick himself up, dust himself off, and really overcome some personal demons and I think he has the opportunity to do that and create an opportunity for himself possibly at the next level or whatever he does, to graduate and go on to do some great things in life.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State football key dates
Saturday: Scrimmage No. 2 (closed to public)
Aug. 26: Scrimmage No. 3 (closed to public)
Sept. 3: Season opener at Nebraska, 5 p.m. PDT
Home games in CAPS
Sept. 3: at Nebraska, 5 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
Sept. 10: SACRAMENTO STATE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17: at Toledo, noon (ESPN3)
Sept. 24: TULSA, 1:30 p.m. (MWN)
Oct. 1: at Nevada-Las Vegas, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 8: at Nevada, TBA (ESPN network TBD)
Oct. 14: SAN DIEGO STATE, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 22: at Utah State, 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 28: AIR FORCE, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Nov. 5: at Colorado State, 12:30 p.m. (ROOT SPORTS/MWN)
Nov. 12: BYE
Nov. 19: HAWAII, 4 p.m.
Nov. 26: SAN JOSE STATE, 12:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Dec. 3: Mountain West Championship, TBA