Hall of Fame inductee Robison was among Hampton’s greatest linemen
Shawn Robison never really thought himself an athlete.
He was a two-way lineman in high school who never filled the stat sheet, He was never the fastest runner or the highest jumper.
But many with athletic abilities beyond Robison never accomplished what he did as an all-conference performer with Hampton.
He also was an NAIA All-American under famed college coach Rich Rodriguez.
His alma mater will enshrine him in the Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame Aug. 31, proving that sports accomplishments aren’t relative to tangible statistics.
Robison excelled in outmuscling defensive linemen and was one of the best Hampton has seen at shoving people around.
“I was definitely surprised,” said Robison, who resides in Morristown, Tenn., with his wife of 23 years, Jennifer, his sons Kennedy and Toby, and daughter Kaysha.
“I never really considered myself an athlete. I was an offensive lineman. The mentality you have is you’re doing the grunt work, so you don’t really think about stuff like that.”
Robison’s “grunt work” paved the way for the Talbots’ success in the late 80′s. He replaced the injured left guard position early in his sophomore season, and never relinquished a starting position the rest of his high school career.
While Hampton endured three- and five-win seasons his first two years, Robison helped captain his team to a Greater Allegheny Conference championship his senior season.
“We just had a season everything kind of came together,” he recalled of the team, which also featured Mike Henderson (Richmond) and Pete Geis (Slippery Rock).
“We lost to Seneca Valley by a field goal and then won eight or nine in a row. It was an amazing year. Just a great team atmosphere.”
He also joined the wrestling team in the heavyweight division where he found more success, finishing second in the section as a senior.
Wrestling was a sport better suited for Shawn’s younger brother, Jason (1993), who won a PIAA championship at Hampton and was a three-time All-American at Edinboro.
“I was just a big strong guy out there, basically,” said Robison of his wrestling days. “I didn’t have the conditioning I probably should have had. It was a lot of fun and definitely the toughest sport I ever did.”
Robison earned a football scholarship to IUP, where he admittedly fell on hard times and left after two years. He was in community college when he first heard about Rodriguez, then an up-and-coming coach at Glenville State, an NAIA school at the time.
Starting at right guard, he completed his transfer and earned second-team all-conference honors his first year as a redshirt sophomore.
He earned first-team all-conference honors the next season, helping GSU reach the NAIA National Championship Game, where it lost to East Central University (Okla.), 49-35. His senior year, he was an All-American.
“When I played for him at the time, I knew he was a pretty awesome coach,” said Robison of Rodriguez, whose career ascended to the top ranks of college football with stops at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona.
“He would do anything for us, and I would do anything for him. To see how his career took off was pretty amazing.”
Robison’s career may not have taken off were it not for his father, Ron, an electrician who worked hard to support his family. Shawn remembers wanting to quit football when he first started at St. Ursula in elementary school.
Ron Robison raised two collegiate All-Americans.
“My dad told me you’re never going to quit anything you start,” he said. “For my brother and I, we both looked up to him immensely.
“Obviously, when you’re younger you don’t look at it that way. But looking back he was my main influence. He taught us the fundamentals and intangibles that you take with you.”