LAFAYETTE — When the final year of his college career started with a whimper instead of the bang he was expecting, Jamal Robinson could’ve allowed himself to be crushed by doubt.
But he persisted, through his faith and through the frustration.
“I knew it was going to come eventually,” Robinson said. “I always say to work at God’s speed; everything happens for a reason. I just prayed every night, and I knew my time would come eventually.”
In the first eight games of his senior season, Robinson had 23 catches for 370 yards and three touchdowns, leaving some to wonder whether the player they saw before a pair of injuries wrecked last season would ever surface again.
His last two games have served as a resounding answer to that question: Robinson almost evenly matched his production from the first eight games.
“More or less, he’s 100 percent healthy,” coach Mark Hudspeth said. “He’s really been into the games. I think he’s sort of rededicated himself to doing better. He’s working hard, and he’s had a great attitude, and boy, has he been productive. The last two or three games he has been on fire, and hopefully he’ll keep that up.”
In his past two games, Robinson hauled in career highs in receptions (10) and yards (188) against the Jaguars before having an even better game last week with 12 and 183 against New Mexico State.
“You can see offensively production-wise what we had the other night when he is doing that,” Hudspeth said. “We’re a totally different team. We just didn’t have that earlier in the year for whatever reason.”
Robinson hauled in go-ahead fourth-quarter scores in both games, though the Cajuns failed to hold onto the lead on both occasions.
After that tough start, Robinson now ranks eighth in the Sun Belt in receptions (45), fourth in yards (741) and sixth in touchdown receptions (five).
“I hope he continues making plays like that, and we’ve got to give him opportunities, too,” Hudspeth said. “He can’t make plays unless you give him opportunities.”
What’s behind the resurgence? Opportunity might be at the core of it.
Quarterback Brooks Haack said Robinson’s early-season struggles were the product of some bad circumstances.
He said Robinson’s foot, which he broke last season against Texas State, might not have been 100 percent, which combined with defenses making him a focal point and the lack of continuity at the quarterback position to equal a slow start.
But the Cajuns have opened things up recently in the passing game as opposing defenses continue to put more pressure on the Cajuns’ ground game.
“The coaches trusted us to make the plays, and they gave us more opportunities,” Robinson said.
The Cajuns are only guaranteed two more games this season, but based on his recent hot streak, it appears Robinson will play a large part in determining whether they play a third.