Camp marks return to form for excitable, eager Robertson

 Adrion Robertson was a newcomer to Northwestern State the most recent time the Demons played a fall football season.

It did not take long for Robertson to make an impact on the Demon roster, starting the first three games of his junior season and finishing that season with 8.5 tackles for loss in nine games. The 2020-21 athletic calendar was not nearly as kind to Robertson, who did not see action in the six-game spring season because of injury.

Because of Robertson’s upbeat, gregarious nature, his presence has been a welcome sight during the first week of NSU’s fall camp, which resumed Wednesday after a one-day break.

“I’m pretty excited to be back,” Robertson said after letting out a hearty chuckle. “(Being injured) was definitely something I haven’t encountered or had to endure. It was an obstacle to overcome. It was tough sitting out, but I knew it was a process and I would be better in the end.”

Robertson and the Demons will hold their first full-pads practice of camp at 7 p.m. Thursday inside Turpin Stadium, marking another step forward for Robertson.

In his nine games in 2019, Robertson proved to be productive, collecting 39 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Robertson’s impact on the Demon defense, however, went deeper than his stat line.

“Adro’s a playmaker,” said defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Lucas. “He has a lot of natural ability, and it hurt us in the spring when he wasn’t in there. He’s a leader for us, a very vocal leader. Everybody likes him. The players enjoy him and his attitude. That was tough not having it out there this spring.”

A junior college transfer from Kilgore College, Robertson has shifted from inside linebacker to outside linebacker with Lucas saying he hopes it helps keep the 5-foot-9, 200-pound Robertson healthy and on the field.

“He was playing inside at 200 pounds and getting knocked around,” Lucas said. “I think that led to some of his injury situation. We’ve moved him outside where he can use his quickness. He provides good pressure off the edge, and hopefully playing outside the tackle box will prevent some of those injuries.”

Robertson was “all in” on the move.

“I’m a team player,” he said. “Wherever may coach needs me to play, I’m 100 percent for it. Inside, outside, in coverage, whatever, I feel I am one of the best. I am a competitor.”

One of Robertson’s best physical attributes has been his quickness and ability to chase down ball carriers.

While rehabbing from a meniscus injury and watching the six games the Demons played from the sideline, Robertson continued to exercise a growing part of his toolbox.

“One thing I have recognized and grown into is my patience,” Robertson said. “When I first came here – or naturally – I’ve been a guy to hustle and get to the ball. Here, I’ve learned to slow down and be patient and take care of my assignment then fly to the ball.”

Robertson and Lucas have found kindred “intense” personalities in one another, and Robertson’s appreciation for his position coach is clear. Speaking of his bond with Lucas, Robertson said the pair “light up the linebacker room” with their interactions.

En route to his second season opener with the Demons, the Houston native with the outsized personality will pass another milepost that will serve as a reminder of how far Robertson has come.

During their drive to Denton, Texas, for the Sept. 4 opener against North Texas, the Demons will pass exit 589 off Interstate 20 East in Kilgore, Texas, which leads traffic to Kilgore College where Robertson played two seasons of junior college football. Robertson was an all-conference linebacker in 2018, his final season at Kilgore.

The trip to North Texas will take Robertson back past his former junior-college home for the first time since completing his career with the Rangers. That weekend could mark the first time since November 2019 he takes part in a college football game.

“That’s going to bring back a lot of memories,” he said. “It’s another reminder of where I came from and how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am now.”

Photo:  Adrion Robertson (22) goes through drills during workouts Wednesday morning.

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