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Late Sunday afternoon Dale Robinson stood on the neatly manicured lawn outside his parents’ St. Albans home fielding phone calls from prospective NFL teams and coaches. Unfortunately, they weren’t to inform him that they would be selecting him in the NFL Draft, but to express their interest in him as an un-drafted free agent. Robinson eventually agreed to terms with the Indianapolis Colts.
Predicted to be chosen as high as the third round Saturday night by several draft publications - he was ranked as the fifth best middle linebacker by NFL.com - Robinson, 22, suffered the indignity of sitting through hours and hours of draft coverage on ESPN Saturday night and all day Sunday, waiting for his phone to ring.
But no team came calling until the depressing outcome was all but determined - Dale Robinson would not be a part of the NFL Draft. Countless friends and relatives came over expecting a celebration. Instead, they got a dose of harsh reality of what professional sports are all about: hot one moment, cold the next.
“I feel real disappointed,” said the 6-foot, 231-pound Robinson, who starred at Holy Cross in the late ‘90s. “It’s tough, mentally, to get over. I never would’ve thought I’d not get drafted.”
“It’s crushing because here’s a kid that never missed a practice. Everything he was told to do, he did. And to sit here [all weekend] and not have your name called, it’s tough,” said his father, Dale Robinson Sr.
Getting overlooked is nothing new to Robinson. As one of the best players in the Catholic School league, he wasn’t offered a Division I scholarship when he graduated in 2000 because he was considered undersized at just 200 pounds, attending Division II C.W. Post in its place. A successful season there turned into a scholarship at the top junior college in Arizona, Glendale Community College, which he parlayed into a full scholarship at PAC-10 power Arizona State.
He led the Sun Devils in tackles in his two years there, and as a senior, when he made a team-high 115 tackles, he was named a co-winner of the Pat Tillman Award, given to the PAC-10 defensive player of the year.
But as linebacker after linebacker was chosen, including a teammate of his, Jamar Williams, who managed 35 fewer stops than him and many considered less of a pro prospect, Robinson realized he would be bypassed, just like his final days at Holy Cross. “It’s definitely similar,” he said. “It helps you … [But that] was a lot different than being in the draft.”
Although he said he would need a day or so to get past the disappointment, Robinson was still intent on making it in the Pro Ranks. “I’m definitely going to use this as motivation and make things happen,” he said. “It’s always been my dream to go to the NFL.”
Robinson will get his chance to prove all the teams and their scouts wrong. On Thursday he will take part in the Indianapolis Colts’ three-day rookie mini-camp, and is likely to be invited to training camp in late July. Robinson spoke with Coach Tony Dungy shortly before signing, and was told “they wanted to give me a real opportunity and see what I can really do,” Robinson said of the conversation.
The Holy Cross football Coach, Tom Pugh, who worked in the Jets’ pro-personnel department for several years, was shocked at the snub but expressed belief that his former pupil will just shove this setback aside like he would a blocker. “Everywhere he’s gone, he’s had to bounce back,” Pugh said. “Adversity has been one of his trademarks. So I think he’ll overcome this.”
Robinson suffered, perhaps, because of a less-than-stellar performance in the NFL Combine, hampered by a sore quad he injured late in the season. His time in the 40-yard dash, 4.83, was hardly impressive, and may have contributed to his exclusion from the Draft.
Still, he didn’t think there was any questioning his work ethic, commitment or documented results on the football field, for that matter. “I honestly feel like I did enough,” he said. “There are some guys that missed the whole season and got drafted.”

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