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Robinson enjoying his 'dream job'

His road to the NFL is one that had its share of bumps, even a few Pittsburgh potholes.

But that road got somewhat smoother for Mark Robinson on draft day, when the Steelers selected the linebacker from Ole Miss in the seventh round.

"Every day waking up, this is my dream job," said Robinson. "I'm blessed to be here. I look forward to getting better. Just being in the building, it's an opportunity of a lifetime."

It's an opportunity Robinson had to work hard to earn, and could have easily given up with the challenges he faced.

He began his collegiate career as a running back at Presbyterian College in South Carolina, but after the school dropped football scholarships he transferred to Southeastern Missouri, also an FCS school. He worked his tail off, but wanted more, so decided to transfer to Ole Miss. He was forced to sit out a season following his transfer, and as a walk-on at Ole Miss thought he would be part of an offensive backfield.

He was wrong.

The coaches asked him to move to linebacker, and despite his initial resistance, he made the move.

"Life changing," said Robinson. "Best decision I ever made.

"I love linebacker. For me it was a confident switch, a good switch. It's fun. I look forward to it. I love being on defense, hitting guys. I want to run around, play physical. They are going to know when I am out there. I am an energetic guy, and I am going to lurk and play ball."

Robinson played one season at linebacker at Ole Miss, but it was enough to open the eyes of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers, most importantly those in the Steelers organization.

"I definitely feel like every team besides this organization didn't believe in who I was," said Robinson. "But that is fine. I am here for the people who believe in me."

And most importantly, he never stopped believing in himself.

"It was definitely challenging. There was never a time I thought I would be doing anything else in life," said Robinson. "I knew one way or another, I just had to keep on working and God was going to have me. Having faith and believing in God. The way that I was raised, believing in who I am, knowing what I want in life, and working for it until I get it.

"I went through a couple of situations I had to go through in order to be who I am now. The chips were stacked against me, but I had faith and worked hard. You never know how it's going to work out. But you believe hard work will pay off and it did. I had to trust in God. I knew who I wanted to be, but I didn't know how to get there. He put me through some things, let me know who I am, so I can be prepared to be here. I am grateful for everything, the highs, the lows, the good, the bad, I am thankful for all of it.

"I know the work it took to get here. It took a lot for me to get here. I made it here and am looking forward to keep on doing it."

Robinson has been doing everything he can to keep the eyes he opened during the draft process focused on him. He utilized rookie minicamp, OTAs, mandatory minicamp and every waking moment to continue to grow and develop, wanting to make sure he is going full speed ahead when the team reports to training camp at Saint Vincent College.

"The time we had was very valuable," said Robinson. "Being in the locker room with guys. Getting a chance to see how they operate so we get a feel for how they are, how to handle business, how we should go about our business as a professional.

"I've already learned so much. Always take care of your body. Always come in with the right mindset. Stress pre-practice routines like stretching, warming up properly, just being prepared.

"I know what I bring to the table. I have to show up prepared so I can be the best me, put my best foot forward. Everything else will fall into place. I need to just keep taking care of my body, studying my playbook, just having the right mindset, believing in who I am and getting ready to show them what I can do."

There will be a chip on Robinson's shoulder as he shows what he can do, something he always had as he fought his way to get where he is now.

"When you have gone through a lot to be here, it's different when you touch the field," said Robinson. "It's all smiles in the media and stuff like that. But a lot of nights and days lonely going through the process. It makes you different on the inside. It's a different purpose for me. I know what I went through to be here. I never take it for granted. When I touch the field, I am going to give it everything I have got. I am going to run the fastest, hit the hardest, and let everything work itself out."