Porter Ridge’s Robbins is an all-purpose player
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Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013

Porter Ridge’s Robbins is an all-purpose player

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- COURTESY OF JERRICK ROBBINS
Nick Vagnone, left, and Jerrick Robbins, are two key players for Porter Ridge High School. Robbins has proven to be an important part of the Pirates.

When Jerrick Robbins touches the ball, good things happen for Porter Ridge’s football team.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior averages 8.5 yards per carry. He has tallied 698 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground through the first eight games. He also has three kickoff returns for touchdowns this season.

In addition, Robbins has eight catches for 131 yards and a score, and two interceptions for the defense.

“Jerrick is always ready to make an explosive play. His attitude and energy is infectious to the rest of the team,” said Porter Ridge football coach Greg Neuendorf. “But while he has put up a lot of individual numbers, he is a team guy. He will do whatever the team needs from offense to defense to special teams.”

Last year Robbins posted 1,313-yards and 13 touchdowns, but his senior your is on pace to be his best.

Robbins, who had 175-yards and a touchdown in last year’s 4A state championship game (39-38 loss to New Bern), has added even more big games to his resume.

He had 151 yards rushing, three touchdowns and a 99-yard kickoff return in a win over Piedmont. The next game, in a 28-24 win over Providence, he notched 94 yards on the ground and another 97-yard kick return for a score. Robbins also had two interceptions against the Panthers, including the game-clincher.

Robbins added 110 yards rushing and three scores in a win over South Meck and a season-high 215 yards and three scores on 18 carries in the win over Myers Park.

Even when he had a season-low 19 yards rushing against Independence, he still found a way to contribute, breaking off a 90-yard kick return for a score.

Neuendorf said Robbins knows what to do when he gets the ball.

“Jerrick understands how to set people up, how to control his body – and he can accelerate on one step,” Neuendorf said. “He can go from second gear to third to fourth, and then back to first and cut to make someone miss. When the lights go on, he just plays football.”

Robbins agrees.

“I am always trying to make a play, no matter what the moment calls for,” Robbins said. “And … I love scoring a long touchdown. There’s no better feeling than when you are out in the open and you know no one can catch you.”

Robbins has a lot of help as everyone from quarterback Isaiah Hicklin, junior fullbacks Nick Vagnone and Grant Vandervoort, and receivers A.J. Barrett, Luke Bayly and Casey Hardison are also capable of making big plays.

Robbins says the offensive line that includes Matthew Donahue, Eric Hogan, Yanick Mendes, Drew Neely and Jonathan Washburn have been key players, too.

As a big player on all three phases of the Pirate team – offense, defense and special – Robbins usually doesn’t spend much time on the sideline.

“I’ve been playing both ways and on special teams since middle school,” Robbins said. “I don’t know how to come off the field. … I like to keep playing.”

Robbins is on the go year-round. He plays point guard on the Porter Ridge basketball team, where he will likely start and he is the (starting) center fielder for the Pirates’ baseball squad. The roots of Robbins’ abilities came from his family.

Robbins’ mom, Saundra, played college basketball and softball at Johnson C. Smith. His older brother, Johnathan, also was a three-sport athlete at Providence Day in basketball, baseball and football before going to play baseball at Lenoir-Rhyne and then the Academy of Art (California) in college.

Robbins’ older sister, Jasmine, also starred at Providence Day and is on the softball team at East Carolina University.

Robbins hopes to continue his family tradition of playing sports in college. Neuendorf said Robbins has drawn interest in football, mostly Southern Conference teams, and baseball.

The Porter Ridge senior says he got a lot of his competitive drive as he grew up.

“I definitely took my lumps growing up and learned a lot of lessons, and had a lot of backyard battles with my brother, sister and even mom,” said Robbins, the youngest child. “My mom wouldn’t let me win at basketball (at one point). But I grew up, and I learned to compete with all of them.”

Robbins’ competitive fire has been on display this year, as he and his Porter Ridge team have had a little extra motivation playing in the Southwestern 4A conference for the first time.

The Pirates have wins over teams like Independence (35-34) and Myers Park (43-7). Despite going 33-5 (and counting) in the last three years, including back-to-back 4A state runner-up finishes, the Pirates are as motivated as ever.

“We are all about winning at Porter Ridge and we have won a lot of games,” Robbins said. “But I think a lot of people still doubt us. We feel like we still have a lot to prove.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

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