Believing it was worse to allow rumors surrounding his dismissal from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program to fester, Terrell Robinson decided to admit publicly why his Mocs career came to an end.
In an exclusive interview with the Times Free Press, Robinson said Thursday that his dismissal was the result of multiple failed drug tests.
"I didn't grow up thinking I would smoke marijuana, but I made those decisions on my own. I put it to my own lips," Robinson said. "I did it and I know I'm looked at as the bad guy. There's already people badmouthing me, and I get that. I'm not mad. I'm not looking to get back at anybody who says anything about me. I'm going to just take care of me, live my life and try to be the best person I can be. I'm ready to move on.
"I made bad decisions. I was frustrated and upset. But not getting to play quarterback really had nothing to do with why I got frustrated and did what I did. There were a lot of other things going on for me that I won't get into, but I will say that part of life is you're always learning and growing and sometimes you learn tough lessons."
Robinson was one of three UTC players who were dismissed for violation of athletic department policy. However, the reason for his dismissal is separate from, and not necessarily related to, those of sophomore running back Kenny Huitt and redshirt freshman long-snapper Will Sharpton.
The former South Pittsburg High School star said that aside from progressively stiffer punishments for failing drug tests, UTC coaches have classes set up for players with drug-related issues, but that he never attended those classes.
Mocs coach Russ Huesman could neither confirm nor deny Robinson's statement of the athletic department having a drug policy in place.
"The bottom line is we hate to lose anybody," Huesman said. "It hurts to lose any player from your program, but it happens everywhere. We're not better or worse than any other program at any level.
"I wish Terrell the best and am pulling for him to do well down there."
Robinson, who is on course to earn his degree after the 2014 fall semester, is already enrolled and attending classes at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., along with former South Pittsburg teammate Raquis Hale, who transferred there after playing two seasons at Bethel University.
Faulkner is an NAIA program that reached the playoffs last season and had an immediate need at quarterback after the graduation of a three-year starter.
"Terrell will start at quarterback for us," said Blake Boren, Faulkner's co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. "We were excited to have him come here, because he is a very talented athlete who has game experience. As a faith-based school, we're the king of second chances and we're happy to have Terrell as part of our program this season."
Robinson arrived at UTC as a celebrated recruit, having won the state's Mr. Football award and setting every school passing record in leading South Pittsburg to two state finals. As a redshirt freshman at UTC, he stepped in for an injured B.J. Coleman and played quarterback for the Mocs for the final five games of the 2011 season, eventually being voted Southern Conference freshman of the year after combining for 11 rushing and passing touchdowns.
But that would be the high point of his career. The following season he lost the starting quarterback job to freshman Jacob Huesman and because of his versatility was switched to receiver. He quit the team for two days in the second week of that 2012 season before coaches allowed him to return. He began last season in trouble again, sitting out the season opener plus the first two quarters of the Mocs' second game while serving a suspension.
Given multiple chances to remain on the team and become the leader both he and the coaching staff believed he had the potential to be, Robinson instead will be remembered as much for his off-the-field issues as he will for his on-field talents and admitted the split was necessary for the good of both UTC's football program and himself.
He said he recognized having been a distraction at times and that a fresh start and the opportunity to become a full-time quarterback excited him.
"Honestly, it was just time for me to go," Robinson said. "I think it's best for me and best for UTC. I believe I still have a lot of potential and that's on me to do it. And UTC will probably be better off without me being there now.
"I already feel like I've got a fresh start here. It's a clean slate and now it's up to me to make the most of this opportunity. The world isn't finished seeing T-Rob do big things."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.