Just days after starting the season opener against South Florida last Saturday, quarterback Terrell Robinson quit the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team Tuesday.
Mocs coach Russ Huesman said following Tuesday's practice at Finley Stadium that the former South Pittsburg High School star and 2011 Southern Conference co-freshman of the year had left the team without warning.
"Terrell has quit the team. No discipline issues whatsoever, no problems -- he just decided that this was not for him," Huesman said.
As he left the stadium, Huesman added: "I just want to make it clear that this came as a total surprise to us. Nobody on our team, our coaches ever even had any inkling whatsoever."
A redshirt sophomore, Robinson did not respond to several messages left on his cell phone by the Times Free Press. Vic Grider, Robinson's coach at South Pittsburg, said he didn't want to comment. But Vincent Robinson told WRCB TV that his son "just felt like he was never able to find a rhythm because he had to share the reps. ... It was a tough situation because he was competing against the coach's son."
According to Huesman, Robinson did not attend class Tuesday. Robinson met with strength coach Scott Brincks and eventually informed Huesman of his decision.
Huesman did not clarify the timeline of Tuesday's events and referred all questions about the situation to Robinson, but Huesman spoke at length at his weekly media luncheon about the offense and the two-quarterback system the Mocs were using with Robinson and redshirt freshman Jacob Huesman.
"We're going to play the best 11 players, however we've got to play them," he said. "The thing we didn't do [against USF] is have Jacob and Terrell on the field at the same time, and we've got to start doing things like that in some capacity."
The trickery that UTC had worked on in the preseason with the two players on the field together likely would have made its debut Saturday at No. 24 Jacksonville State. Not anymore.
Jacob was at Tuesday's media session and talked about needing to practice as if he was starting, regardless of whether he was first or fourth on the depth chart. Well, it appears he will now make his first start Saturday, with redshirt junior Graham Nichols in the backup role.
If Robinson wants to transfer to another Division I school, he will have to sit out the rest of this season and 2013 before being eligible to play. If he decided to transfer to a lower division, he would still have to sit out the rest of 2012. He also needs to remain in school to be eligible to play elsewhere.
Robinson and Jacob began competing for the starting job last spring, after Robinson had shone in five games last season, filling in for the injured B.J. Coleman. They worked out and studied video and the new playbook together almost daily during the summer.
During preseason practice they got roughly equal repetitions, and Coach Huesman and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said often that both players were going to play. Both did against USF: Robinson finished 4-for-5 for 20 yards passing and had seven runs for 9 yards; Jacob was 9-of-13 for 82 yards and had 17 runs for 1 net yard.
The Mocs went about their business during Tuesday's rainy practice. Jacob ran the first-team offense and practice seemed to go on as usual. At the end of practice, Huesman gathered the team together for a brief chat before he met with the media.
Robinson's departure comes a few days before the Mocs face a critical game against the Gamecocks. UTC is 0-1 after last week's game against South Florida, and that leaves 10 games left on the schedule, but only nine will count toward playoff eligibility.
The Mocs' home debut is next Thursday against Division II Glenville State, but wins over non-Division I teams don't count toward the magic number of seven for playoff eligibility. With a loss to USF and the Glenville State game not counting, that leaves the Mocs needing to win seven of their nine games against FCS competition.
"I haven't even thought about that," Coach Huesman said several hours before revealing that Robinson had quit the team. "I don't want to do the math; I just want to win a game. And then win another game."
That would appear to be more difficult following Robinson's departure.