Everybody loves a great backstory. The Steelers have been blessed with plenty of success stories about players who have overcome seemingly overwhelming odds to turn their NFL dreams into reality throughout their illustrious franchise history. The subject of this article is merely the latest in a long line.
Congratulations to Steelers rookie inside linebacker Mark Robinson for winning the 2022 Isaac Redman Award in what amounted to easily the closest vote in Redman Award history.
Most vested contributors realized that it was a two man competition between Mark Robinson and offensive training camp sensation Jaylen Warren, an undrafted rookie running back from Oklahoma State.
Both young men exceeded all realistic expectations throughout camp and carried that success into their preseason game performances. Both were also directly impacted by the limitations of their colleagues on multiple occasions, but still managed to showcase their NFL caliber abilities regularly.
In the end, after our passionate BTSC community accumulated over 1500 total votes, Robinson edged Warren by a single vote, 691 to 690. When it was all said and done, they accounted for over 90% of the total vote. I believe that qualifies as a two man race.
The Redman Award is truly a special distinction for Behind the Steel Curtain, solely decided by the majority vote of the BTSC community, and totally unique to the site. The yearly winner encompasses the spirit of it's namesake; a diamond in the rough upstart who has exceeded expectations enough to capture the imagination of the Steelers ravenous fan base.
Many of the previous winners have went on to establish admirable NFL careers, if by nothing more than the longevity of said career. Daniel McCullers carved out an impressive 6 years, mainly standing on the sidelines with the Steelers, where he offered an impressive source of shade for anyone lucky enough to be standing in his shadow.
If Big Dan McCullers was the Shade Tree, then former Steelers standout Mike Hilton is Mighty Mouse. What Hilton lacks in size he makes up for with toughness and heart. He enjoyed the best season of his NFL career in 2021 with the Cincinnati Bengals, after 5 standout seasons as a slot corner for the Steelers. He remains the most accomplished Redman Award winner to date.
Now Mark Robinson gets the opportunity to follow in those footsteps. The young man has an incredible story of his own, having only played a single collegiate season at linebacker, after beginning his career as a running back. Thankfully, that single season was a successful one, playing for the Ole Miss Rebels out of the prestigious SEC, universally accepted as the best Power 5 conference in college football. Successful enough to garner the attention of Steelers scouts, Robinson turned his one season into being a seventh-round draft selection for the franchise.
As expected based on his limited experience, Robinson is an extremely raw prospect, but the youngster is brimming with potential. He has the athleticism, physicality, intensity, and instincts reserved for a NFL starter at the position.
Robinson still has to prove he has the work ethic necessary to maximize his potential, but his already successful transition from running back to linebacker would lead one to believe he does. His fearless and relentless assaults on opposing ball carriers at or near the line of scrimmage offer further confirmation. You either have that burning desire to make every play when the opportunity arises, or you don't. I believe last year's overall performance at the position for the Steelers, or lack thereof, clarified that statement perfectly.
Hopefully Robinson will begin his NFL career as a special teams standout, flying down the field as a contact seeking human version of a runaway freight train. Get off the tracks, because the Mark Robinson hype train is coming through.
In order for Robinson to make an impact, he first has to have the opportunity which means getting a helmet on game days so he can gain the NFL experience he desperately needs to improve. That journey begins on special teams.
I just wanted to say; Congratulations, young man! Great job earning a roster spot and keeping your NFL dreams alive. Good health, good luck, and best wishes.