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Robinson plays it smart


Very little in DelJuan Robinson's life has come easy to him, including football.

He was listed by as the country's top defensive end recruit coming out of high school in Hernando, Miss., but after his senior season, the defensive tackle was diagnosed with a leaky heart valve. Robinson underwent open heart surgery and was forced to sit out what should have been his freshman year of college.

Robinson had a productive season at Mississippi State, but he was passed over in the 2007 NFL Draft. He signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent and spent most of his first season on the practice squad.

Last year, Robinson's hard work and determination paid off. He started three games for an injured Amobi Okoye and registered 28 tackles and a forced fumble. In the Texans' 13-12 win over the Titans, Robinson played only 18 snaps but recorded three tackles for a loss.

{QUOTE}Robinson doesn't take his recent success for granted. He views his life in the NFL as temporary and says he can't afford to let up if he wants to keep his job.

"I've been through trials and tribulations," Robinson said. "I have been through the fire, but you still can make it. Every day I get a chance to do what I love to do, but it didn't come easy.

"It's not easy when you're a temp like me. It's the National Football League. If it was easy, everybody in America would be doing it; there wouldn't be enough football fields. But you have to be disciplined, able to learn information and then go out and do it.

"When you get that opportunity, you have to take advantage of it, knowing that it could end at any moment. You've got to seize the moment and know that you've got to put the work in, and that's why it's hard for a temp."

On Monday, Robinson shared his unique story and perspective with the football team from Houston's Stephen F. Austin High School. The school is taking part in the NFL's "Play it Smart" program, which places an athletic counselor at a high school to help to get students into college. All 23 HISD schools are taking part in the program, and Dytonya Jones has been at Stephen F. Austin for the last year working as the athletic counselor.

Jones contacted the Texans because she wanted a player who could talk to the school's football team about the importance of receiving an education, no matter what one's hardships might have been.

She got what she asked for with Robinson

"His story was really inspiring because he really focused on being a student first, and that is what we stress," Jones said. "As a student athlete, it's important for them to get in the classroom and then make an automatic transition to whatever they choose to pursue. His was the NFL. All of our kids can't go to the NFL, and he really drove that home. Our kids needed to hear that from a professional athlete."

Robinson told the team that he struggled to pass the standardized tests that would allow him to get into college and took the ACT at least five times until he got the required score. He persisted because he knew he had to get into college to play football at the next level.

He told the students how close he was to losing his football career due to heart surgery, but he fought back because he wanted to go to college and earn his degree. Robinson told them about barely making the Texans' roster and the hard work he has put in to keep his place there.

His message seemed to impact the high schoolers, who listened attentively in their cafeteria and gave Robinson a hearty applause at the end of his speech.

For Robinson, the day was all about showing young athletes how far he has come and how far they can go if they work hard in school and on the field.

"Football is going to end one day and you have to have something to fall back on, and I realize that," Robinson. "In this business, I realize that you have to have something to fall back on. If you don't have your education, what do you have, especially in today's times when people can't get jobs? I can get a leg up on someone because I have an education. Education is the key to it."

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