Since his freshman year of high school in 2013, Shawn Robinson has played under six different head coaches and therefore six different offensive philosophies.
There was a trio of prep coaches who guided Robinson in the Dallas area, where he developed into one of the most-prized quarterback recruits in the Class of 2017.
Robinson then played for TCU under Gary Patterson for his first two collegiate seasons before transferring to Missouri to play under head coach Barry Odom and offensive coordinator Derek Dooley.
He sat out due to NCAA rules in 2019 — Odom and Dooley’s last season at MU.
Now as a redshirt junior with the Tigers, Robinson is learning from head coach Eli Drinkwitz, quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan and others.
"You can look at it both ways," Robinson said of his constant changes. "It's difficult, but it could give someone an advantage, just having so many different viewpoints from different people and learning and taking pieces.
"It's been really cool just to learn so much — different things from different individuals."
Nearly 22 months after signing with Missouri, Robinson played in his first game for the school, starting for the Tigers in their 38-19 loss to No. 2 Alabama last Saturday.
Robinson played all but two series, finishing the game with 19 completions on 25 attempts for 185 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
Robinson recorded a completion percentage of 76%, the best by a Tiger quarterback in a debut since Blaine Gabbert completed 75.8% against Illinois in September 2009. Additionally, Robinson had the second-highest drop rate in the Southeastern Conference, with 12% of his catchable passes falling incomplete.
His game rust showed a little as Robinson wasn’t turnover-free. A badly aimed pitch on an option resulted in a fumble and a Crimson Tide recovery. He was also sacked twice and admitted after the game he has to know better when to throw the ball away.
While Robinson took the overwhelming amount of snaps behind center, Drinkwitz still hasn’t named a definitive starting quarterback, citing the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic as reason to also give redshirt freshman Connor Bazelak playing time in a shortened, new-look season.
On Saturday, Bazelak scored a rushing touchdown on the game’s final play.
During 2020, not only is Missouri one snap away from needing to replace Robinson at the most important position on the field — now it’s one test away. Missouri football players and coaches are tested for COVID-19 three times a week.
"I’m comfortable playing multiple guys (for) meaningful snaps throughout the season. I don’t think this is going to be a typical season like we’ve ever had before," Drinkwitz said. "... I don’t think we have enough data to think that we’re going to be able to go through the entire season with one quarterback. And so, ultimately, I think both guys played well. Both guys competed, both guys gave us exactly what we expected them to give us and both guys will get reps moving forward."
Despite being highly touted during his prep career, Robinson knows a thing or two about competing for a starting quarterback job and not being guaranteed playing time.
He had a five-star ranking from a few recruiting websites when he transferred to DeSoto High School for his senior season.
"He wasn’t named the starter," former DeSoto head coach Todd Peterman said last month of Robinson’s addition to his team. "He came before spring started. ... He wasn’t named the starter until after the first scrimmage, the week of the first game. ... Shawn earned it and the kids had to know that he earned it."
With starters around him who later attended LSU, Colorado, Wisconsin, Baylor and Missouri (offensive lineman Hyrin White), Robinson led the Eagles to a 16-0 season and a state championship in Texas high school football’s largest classification.
Peterman said he remembers a 2016 game against Southlake Carroll, Chase Daniel’s alma mater, where Robinson threw the ball 40 yards into a 35 mph wind in the opposite direction and found his receiver in stride.
"He doesn’t talk a lot of trash, but I’m telling you now, when there’s something dirty (done) to him or something, he’s got a different level he can take it to," Peterman said of Robinson’s level of play. "He’s not a profanity guy, he’s not that, but he’s competitive. And once those other players see that and he’s not going to show them that until the game, as I’m sure they’re not going to let him be live in a scrimmage.
"... (Shawn) wasn’t worried about being four stars or five stars or ‘what are my stats?’ And all that B.S. that kids may worry about, he never did. He just wanted to play and he wanted to win a state championship."
The pattern of Robinson changing schools throughout his youth was in part because both of his parents are high school coaches.
His father, Othell, is a longtime colleague of Peterman coaching football, while his mother, Andrea, is a girls basketball coach with more than 400 wins.
"I feel like they coach me more than parenting me," Robinson said of his parents. "So it just structured me and just gave me values. I feel like that helped me become the person I am today and it helped me in the sports realm of things, get along with coaches and stuff because my parents are coaches. So it's been really cool."
Almost everything that will be remembered about Robinson’s time in Columbia has yet to happen, and with another chance at notching his first SEC victory against Tennessee — and in turn Drinkwitz’s first win with Missouri — comes a time to show what he’s learned from all his life experiences.
"It’s been a wonderful experience," Robinson said of his time at Missouri thus far. "The people here coming around and teaching me things, I’ve learned so much in the year and a half that I’ve been here."
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