LAFAYETTE — Jamal Robinson did not go into this weekend with any plans other than to maybe play videogames in his bedroom while his family watches the NFL draft in the next room.
Nor does the former Louisiana-Lafayette receiver have any sort of inkling as to what may happen Saturday. His name may be called, his name may not be called. He’s only visited with one team as part of a contingent of local players to tour the Saints’ facility, but he’s had a dozen or so teams call to verify his draft day number.
One thing is for sure, though: Somebody, whether through the draft or through the post-draft free-agent frenzy, is going to acquire Robinson’s services. And that’s the part he has been planning for.
“The first thing I’m going to do is get that playbook and learn the plays,” Robinson said.
Robinson seems to understand that no matter what happens this weekend, his road to an NFL roster won’t be an easy one. Maybe it’s because of the uncertainty of it all, but his focus is less on the draft and more on what he has to do in the days, weeks and months following the draft.
He’s been on the phone with former Cajuns teammates Alonzo Harris, Christian Ringo and Bill Bentley trying to pick their brains for morsels of knowledge that may help him when he enters the pro football ranks.
Step one is to acquire the playbook. Step two is to learn the playbook. Step three is to “get cool” with coaches and teammates. His ability should take over from there.
He is facing something entirely new. He has been the star at every level of football he’s known, and now he’s working his way back up from the bottom. These are the lessons those who have been there before have let him in on.
“They’ve been in them shoes already; they’ve been through all that,” Robinson said. “I don’t think they would lie to me, so I’m trusting what they’re saying to prepare myself with what they’re telling me.”
Robinson seemed to put himself in position to at least be considered for a draft selection with his performance at the Cajuns’ pro day in March, when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds, pushed out 24 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press and had a vertical leap of 36.5 inches.
All of those figures would’ve compared favorably at the NFL scouting combine, to which Robinson was not invited.
“It was a big deal,” Robinson said. “It was going to be my last test, and I’d have to do good on it to give me an opportunity for the next level.”
Robinson was also productive when he was on the field — and both parts of that sentence serve as a positive and a negative in scouts’ eyes.
He dominated early in 2014, hauling in 13 passes for 231 yards and four scores in the two full games he played before a pair of injuries ended what was supposed to be his senior season.
He earned a medical redshirt season to come back for 2015, but he didn’t look comfortable until the season reached the midway point.
But there were games in which he was the best player on the field. In the final six games last year, even as the Cajuns were completely unsettled at quarterback, Robinson hauled in 38 passes for 579 yards and three touchdowns.
He’s done all he can do. He trained for the Cajuns’ pro day at the EXOS training center in Phoenix, Arizona, and that worked out well for him. Since, he’s been running routes with his younger brother and a few childhood friends at Salmen High in Slidell, where he once starred as a schoolboy.
Now, he waits.
He doesn’t know how Saturday will unfold, but that’s beside the point. What matters is what comes after. He thinks back on his conversations with his former teammates.
“They told me just to keep praying,” Robinson said. “Have faith, even if I don’t get drafted. They told me how it doesn’t matter if you get drafted or not, as long as you’re balling in camp.”
That’s the plan.