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Chagrin's Robiskie is right at home with Browns
Chagrin's Robiskie is right at home with Browns
By STEVE NOVAK
Brian Robiskie is back on familiar ground. He's back at 76 Lou Groza Blvd., which just happens to be the address of the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea.
Eight years ago, when Robiskie was 13 years old, he began part of his summer serving as a ball boy for the Browns. At that time, his father, Terry Robiskie, was a Browns' assistant coaches.
After successful seasons at Chagrin Falls High School and Ohio State University, Robiskie became a second-round draft choice of the same team that employed him as a teenager.
This summer, Robiskie is back on his familiar ground. However, he's not assigned to locker-room equipment duty any more. This time, he's in contention for a job as a wide receiver.
The 21-year-old Robiskie, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 209 pounds, already has an impressive set of numbers attached to his biography. He caught passes for 1,885 yards and 34 touchdowns in high school. In college, he pulled in 127 passes for nearly 2,000 yards.
Another number which should be considered is that Robiske spent two decades growing up in the household of a National Football League coach. Besides working for the Browns, his father has been a coach at Washington, Miami, Oakland and now Atlanta.
"There's not enough I can say about what he has done for me. Not only having him coach my position, but having him coach at a level he's been at for so long is, with the knowledge he has and then has been able to pass onto me, it's helped me a tremendous amount," Robiskie said about his afther.
Robiskie spent three summers as a Browns' ball boy. These three years coincided with his first three years of high school. Each summer, even before he began his two-a-day drills for Chagrin Falls, he already had been watching a professional team get ready for its season. Before he began running his own pass patterns each August, Robiskie had been watching the Browns' receivers run their flag, post and hitch pass routes.
One of the Browns' receivers who took special note of the young Robiskie was Kevin Johnson. Robiskie said Johnson often spent extra time with him after practice was completed.
"Some guys looked at me as the ball boy. But he knew I was a young receiver, that I was in high school, and that I was trying to learn," he said. "And so he took time to stay after practice. He took time to show me different drills. He is a guy I still talk to today. He was another mentor for me."
Johnson, now 33 years old and a New Jersey resident, said the young Robiskie was an eager student of every facet of the game.
"You can see that he got to where he is today through a tremendous work ethic. He paid attention to details," Johnson said. "He was a guy who - instead of talking - he listened. He listened and he sucked things up like a sponge. Then he implemented what he learned into his game plan."
The phrase "work ethic" also was used in another description of Robiskie.
Chagrin Falls track coach Dave Kirk said that after Robiskie's junior year as a sprinter, they both seemed to know that he was capable of doing more as a runner.
But his senior year on the track was a different story. Kirk said that despite the fact that Brian had nothing to prove after a successful scholastic football career, he rededicated himself to improving his sprints in the spring of his senior year.
The result was a second-place finish in the Division II state finals in the 400 meters. Robiskie finished second, behind Garretsville's Alex Macek in the finals. Macek finished with a time of 49.1 seconds and Robiskie clocked a personal best time of 49.6 seconds.
"When he was back in high school, everybody thought he would be where he is today. Nobody doubted that," Kirk said. "But to compete as an individual took Brian to a different place. There's team success. But when you're by yourself, it makes you stronger. Any athlete is looking for an edge, and Brian had a little edge to him after the state meet. Now he has a medal with only his name on it, and that's pretty cool."
After high school, Robiskie's move to Ohio State presented the first time he didn't have the constant presence of his family. However, he said that he continued to study the receivers of the teams where his father was coaching. He said this was a practice of his which went back to the first professional receiver he admired from NFL games on television.
"That would have to be Jerry Rice, because that was a receiver that I definitely looked up to, and that I studied," he said. "But as I got older, as my dad moved from team to team, I watched his receivers. I watched all the receivers that he's been with. I just try to study them, and do what they've been doing, just to try to put it together."
Robiskie has so far "put it together" well enough to stay in contention to earn increasing playing time in the opening two exhibition games.
In a loss at Green Bay, he caught one pass for 15 yards. In a win over Detroit, he hauled in two passes for 31 yards.
Browns head coach Eric Mangini recently said he already was pleased with the progress of rookie receivers Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi.
Those who attend one of the sessions of the Browns' training camp this summer will see the purposefulness of Robiskie. Each time he runs a pass route, there is a sure stride, followed by a quick step, as he makes a cut either toward the inside or the outside. The angles of his routes seem to be cut to the exactness of a geometric figure.
Robiskie readily admitted that the daily hours of practice, physical training and study take up a lot of a rookie's time.
Robiskie, who is single, has been busy enough that he hasn't found a permanent residence. Right now, he is living in a hotel in Berea. He said he has very little time so far to get back to see friends and "just hang out" in Chagrin Falls.
When Robiskie was selected in the second round of the draft earlier this year, he was watching the selection show on television with his family in Atlanta. He said he still hasn't reached a point where he's still not surprised at what has happened, and at where he is right now.
"I'm not going to say that it's sunk in completely because for me, everything is so new. It's a dream come true to get drafted. That's a dream in and of itself right there," he said. "But to see Cleveland added to it, and to see I have an opportunity to come back here, it was definitely more special."
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