INDIANAPOLIS — With the list of draft-related questions apparently exhausted Friday afternoon, NFL combine reporters wanted something else from former Alabama defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson: Did he have any stories about Nick Saban getting really mad?
“Yeah,” Robinson said, flashing a grin.
The scene: Fall 2013 on the Alabama practice field. Robinson was a freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, who grew up without the “no contact” rules that apply to quarterbacks in most teams’ practices.
AJ McCarron was Alabama’s golden child. The senior quarterback had just led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back national championships, and was preparing for a third straight title run.
Robinson didn’t care.
Multiple times, he hit McCarron during scrimmages. Saban was livid.
“Stay off the quarterback!” he screamed at Robinson.
Unfazed, the 6-foot-4 defensive tackle still got in more shots at McCarron throughout his freshman season.
“Gotta hit the quarterback,” Robinson said. “If I don’t hit the quarterback in practice, I’m not gonna hit him in the game. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but it was just a force of habit. I stopped doing that after my freshman year.”
Despite the initial difference of opinion on the practice field, Robinson and Saban built a strong relationship throughout the player’s three-year career.
“Playing for coach Saban really helped us … be the best we can and go out there every day and give 100 percent, no matter what it is that we’re doing” Robinson said. “On and off the field. Just being a better man.”