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Alabama junior offensive tackle Cam Robinson (74), shown with fellow lineman Lester Cotton (66) during the season opener against Southern California.

Remember when five-star offensive tackle Cam Robinson elected to leave his home state of Louisiana in winter 2014, signing with Alabama over LSU?

He has no regrets.

"After the first season, my decision was validated," Robinson said. "I didn't focus on what anybody else had to say. I knew I had made the best decision for me, and if someone else doesn't think so, then I don't know what's wrong with you."

The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder has started all 42 games at left tackle since arriving in Tuscaloosa, including three wins against LSU, and he earned freshman All-America honors two years ago, All-Southeastern Conference honors last season and unanimous All-America honors this year as a junior. Robinson also won the prestigious Outland Trophy this season.

Top-ranked Alabama (13-0) averages 471.3 yards and 40.5 points per game heading into Saturday afternoon's Peach Bowl national semifinal against Washington (12-1), and the Crimson Tide have rolled this time around with freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts and a plethora of run-pass options.

"Being able to get out in space is just something I was blessed with," Robinson said. "It's always fun when you get those types of plays called."

Robinson has a team-high 33 knockdown blocks and has allowed just two sacks in 371 drop-back opportunities. He graded out at 88 percent or higher against six bowl-bound opponents — Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Southern California, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Expected to be the first offensive tackle taken in the 2017 NFL draft should he forego his senior season, Robinson has not entertained questions about that in recent weeks.

"We've got a playoff to focus on," he said. "We've still got two more games, so we want to go out there and execute and do whatever we can to win two games. Then we can focus on that."

Although he has played a major role in Alabama's 25-game winning streak dating to last year, not all has gone smoothly for Robinson.

On May 17, he and Crimson Tide defensive back Hootie Jones were arrested in their hometown of Monroe and charged with possession of marijuana and firearms. A month later, the district attorney in Ouachita Parish determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the pair, but the incident resulted in an offseason black eye.

Robinson had to perform 20 hours of community service and undergo drug counseling, and it remains to be seen whether the arrest will have an effect come draft time.

"I think they'll look into everything from that standpoint," longtime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said earlier this month, "but as far as Cam's ability and the way he played, he got better and better as the year went along. I still think he has a chance to go top 10 or 15. He's a left tackle who projects to right tackle like an Andre Smith, but he really played well late in the year.

"He's got a chance to be a really high pick and the first offensive tackle off the board."

The incident prevented Robinson from being a face of the program this year, with tight end O.J. Howard, center Bradley Bozeman, defensive end Jonathan Allen and safety Eddie Jackson, at least until his season-ending injury, most often representing the Tide.

"It was tough at the beginning," Robinson said, "but I had all my coaches and all my brothers behind me. I made a mistake, and I've learned from it. I've kept moving. There is no point in dwelling on it."

Robinson did not address the team after the incident, adding, "I knew my brothers would have my back 100 percent." He also developed a quick admirer, freshman right tackle Jonah Williams, another five-star talent who has started all 13 games this season.

"It's nice to have a teammate, leader and friend like that," Williams said. "He's been really, really great to me. He sets a good example of how to play and is a great teammate to learn from."

So a year that included a sizable setback could end with a second straight trip to the national championship game should the Crimson Tide topple the Huskies. Washington enters Saturday's game with the nation's 11th-ranked total defense and seventh-ranked scoring defense, but the Huskies are two-touchdown underdogs largely due to not possessing any former five-star recruits compared to Alabama having 11 in its starting lineup alone.

Robinson, a consensus top-five national prospect in the 2014 signing class, has a lot to look forward to in 2017 but has a lot more to accomplish this season.

"I didn't come into this season focusing on individual goals," he said. "I focused on the team, and given the year we've had, I'm really happy."

'That's stupid'

Alabama senior outside linebacker Ryan Anderson had no desire to join three prominent tailbacks — LSU's Leonard Fournette, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Baylor's Shock Linwood — in sitting out a bowl game to avoid injury and focus on the NFL draft.

"I'm playing for a national championship," Anderson told reporters at Thursday's media session in the Georgia Dome. "I'm not playing in the Birmingham Biscuit Bowl or the Louisiana Crawfish Bowl. I've worked all my life for this. This is my ultimate goal, so I don't think you have to worry about anyone around here doing that.

"That's stupid."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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