Former Jesuit star doesn't miss a beat (or wall) at FSU
Freshman CF Shane Robinson's toughness is just part of his game.
By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published June 4, 2004
Florida State freshman centerfielder Shane Robinson knew the outfield wall at Salem (Va.) Memorial wasn't exactly Charmin soft.
"It's pretty much made of metal," the former Jesuit star said. "So we were kind of hesitant on balls close to the wall."
Not when it mattered the most. With the Seminoles nursing a 7-5 lead in the seventh inning of an ACC tournament elimination game last weekend, North Carolina's Chris Iannetta hit a two-out line drive that seemingly would bring home a run.
Robinson took off toward the ball ... and the wall.
"I felt the warning track beneath me but wasn't too scared about hitting it," he said.
He made the catch, then smacked into the wall with his left shoulder, knocking the wind out of himself for a few moments. That catch, as well as a diving one the next inning, helped FSU win the game.
The Seminoles went on to claim the league title - and Robinson the MVP award - and secured the right to host today's NCAA Region. They open against Bethune-Cookman College. Oklahoma State and Central Florida round out the foursome in the double-elimination tournament.
But Robinson, who has committed just one error, does more than play defense. He's hitting .272 with 16 doubles (third on the team), 47 runs (fourth) and has a team-best 18 stolen bases in 19 attempts. He's one of only two players to have started every game.
And when it has mattered most, his offensive numbers have improved. He hit .420 (11 for 26) with six RBIs and five runs during the ACC tournament.
"You hear people say a guy's a gamer," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "This young man has really shown he's a gamer."
So, what else is new?
At Jesuit, he not only was a mainstay in the baseball lineup for four years, including for the team's run to the 2000 Class 4A state title, he excelled as a do-everything football player, playing cornerback, receiver, tailback and returning kicks and punts.
"I've coached a lot of great athletes, Gary Godsey was truly a tremendous athlete, but (Shane) was maybe the greatest guy I've coached," said Dominick Ciao, who retired as the Jesuit football coach after the 2003 season after 17 years.
Before he left coaching, Ciao had said that no one would wear Robinson's No. 3 again.
All of that from a guy who is 5 feet 9 and a mere 165 pounds.
"He's a very strong individual and always has been," Jesuit baseball coach John Crumbley said. "He's just a remarkable young man, a remarkable athlete."
Thanks, in part, to his size.
"I was always the smallest person on the team," Robinson said. "I've always been aggressive when it came to sports, and I've always wanted to show people that height doesn't matter. I've dedicated myself on the field to give everything I can and play all out so that there's no way anyone could ever say, "He can't do it.' "
No one's been saying that. Several colleges, including UCF and Duke, were recruiting him to play baseball and football. But he decided it would be best to concentrate on one and he thought his upside in baseball was greater. Not that he hasn't, at times, missed football.
"Going to the games or talking to some of the (football) guys in the weight room, my mouth got watering and I wanted to go out there just to see what I could do," he said, adding that the sport has helped him with his mental toughness, ignoring the aches and pains. "But I'm happy with where I am in baseball."
So are the Seminoles.
"He's really maturing as a baseball player," Martin said. "I knew he could be a game-breaker from the offensive side because of his speed, but (defensively) ... you put him in a spacious park and he just changes the complexion of a game. He's a guy who can be a Rickey Henderson-type player."