Gone too soon
Temple is mourning the loss of one of the players who helped turn around its football program.
Adrian Robinson, a former Temple defensive end, linebacker and Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year who played two NFL seasons after earning his way into the league as an undrafted rookie free agent, died Saturday night at the age of 25. Multiple media outlets have now confirmed with the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office that Robinson's death was a suicide.
Robinson, who had just signed a contract last month to play in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, was enrolled at Temple for the spring semester to work toward completing his undergraduate degree in the university's College of Liberal Arts.
"The Temple football program lost a friend, a brother and a wonderful young man today," Temple football coach Matt Rhule, who coached Robinson for four years as an assistant from 2008-11, said in a statement released Sunday night. "Adrian Robinson was one of the greatest competitors I ever had the pleasure of coaching, and I know he was an even better teammate."
In Robinson's four years at Temple, the Owls went 31-19. During that time, a program that had not played in a bowl game since 1979 went to two - the 2009 EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C. against UCLA and the 2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, a game the Owls won, 37-15, over Wyoming.
In that game, Robinson's last in a Temple uniform, he tallied five tackles, including 2.5 for losses, and was credited with half a sack.
Robinson's league-best 13 sacks helped earn him the MAC defensive player of the year honors in 2009, and his 13.5 tackles for a loss in 2011 led the team. Over the course of 50 games in his four-year college career, Robinson collected 156 tackles and 22.5 sacks.
Robinson played 12 games as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had a brief stint with the Eagles when he was traded to the team for running back Felix Jones but was eventually released. He had additional NFL stints with Denver, San Diego and Washington.
Rhule helped recruit Robinson to Temple out of Harrisburg High School, where he earned first-team all-state honors in his junior and senior seasons, tallying 33 sacks in that two-year span. Robinson, who completed his high school career by playing in the prestigious Big 33 all-star showcase game, chose Temple over offers from Pitt and UConn.
"I first met Adrian as an 18 year old high school senior," Rhule said. "I was so proud to see him back at Temple this spring finishing his degree and being a loving father to his new daughter. He will always be a part of me and will always be a part of this program."
Robinson is survived by his parents, Terry and Adrian Sr., his brother, Averee, his sister, Aija, and his daughter, Avery Marie. Averee, a rising junior defensive lineman at Temple, recovered three fumbles last season and returned one for a touchdown in the Owls' season-opening win at Vanderbilt.
As news of Robinson's death spread Sunday, his friends and former teammates took to social media to express their condolences, including Robinson's former teammate and current New York Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.
My temple brother gone to soon I can't believe it RIP Arob #43 😔😔😔- Muhammad Wilkerson (@mowilkerson) May 17, 2015
We went to war and fought in the trenches bro and I will never forget that. My prayers goes out to… https://t.co/UgQ8o73G9S- Muhammad Wilkerson (@mowilkerson) May 17, 2015
Former Temple football player Kwame Johnson created a fund in Robinson's memory, with all proceeds going to Robinson's daughter.
Countless other former teammates of Robinson, including New York Jets safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Bernard Pierce, paid tribute to him on Twitter as well.
Rest in Paradise A-Rob 🙏🏽- Jaiquawn Jarrett (@jaiquawnjarrett) May 17, 2015
My heart is heavy right now after waking up to some terrible news. And I still can't believe it. RIP… https://t.co/qMSW6s9KuQ- Tahir Whitehead (@Big_Tah47) May 17, 2015
Prayers go up to that man, his family and his little girl... No names needed. Love you always bro.- Bernard Pierce (@BPierce_30) May 17, 2015