Jackson-Olin High School linebacker and Alabama commitment Quandarrius Robinson's rise to being the state's top prospect in the Class of 2020 has not been easy.
For starters, Robinson has not seen his father in over five years. His dad’s lack of involvement in his life has resulted in him never witnessing his son play a down of football.
"Growing up when I was a child, I use to feel so lonely," Robinson said. "I felt like I needed him. He has never been a consistent person in my life."
Despite his father's absence, Robinson is using the game of football to keep his emotions in check and himself out of trouble.
"Football is my way to cope with my situation," Robinson said. "If I am mad or if I am sad and I feel my emotions are taking over me, I will come down to the weight room or head out to the field and clear my mind."
However, there is an old adage that, "Behind every great man is a great woman." Robinson has that in his mother, Tyneshia Nicole.
"My mom is very involved and she is so supportive," Robinson said. "I want to be able to take care of her and my two younger sisters."
Robinson's ability to harness his emotions and energy on the football field has brought him the attention of many Power 5 programs across the nation. He's had offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee, and many more,
The recruiting process for Robinson has not been a breeze, either.
In the summer of 2018, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound linebacker was going into his junior season and thought he had his future destination all set. He was heading to Auburn, having committed to Gus Malzahn's Tigers.
During his stellar junior campaign, Robinson helped the Mustangs complete a perfect, 10-0 regular season. Jackson-Olin was racking up wins, thanks in part, to Robinson making a position change from safety to a hybrid position of linebacker and defensive end that led him to believe his skill set could be utilized in many different areas on the field.
"I did not realize what I was capable of until last season," Robinson said. "I had never played defensive line and linebacker before. There was a string of games where I saw my numbers go up each week. Four tackles then, five tackles here, six tackles and a sack there."
Robinson finished 2018 with 40 tackles, eight sacks, and 13 tackles for loss.
A couple of months after the season went by and Robinson, with a different outlook on his potential, began to have doubts about his commitment. After confiding with family and a close mentor at the end of January, Robinson decided to reopen his recruitment.
Throughout this past spring and summer, Robinson took visits to Alabama, Nebraska,and Kentucky. In the meantime, he dazzled at The Opening, running a 4.60 forty-yard dash, a 36.30 inch vertical, and a shuttle drill time of 4.25 seconds.
Consequently, his recruiting stock continued to rise, putting him on the doorstep of landing a consensus fifth star. Rivals ranks him the No. 31 prospect in the nation, while 247Sports has him at No. 36 (No. 33 consensus).
All throughout the recruiting process, there was one school that Robinson could not get out of his head. That school just so happened to be the in-state rival of his first choice.
On June 11, Robinson made it official and verbally committed to the reigning SEC champions.
Although Alabama has been dominating in-state for 2020, Robinson's addition was the first time in two years it had landed the state's top prospect.
One of the draws for Robinson was his connection to linebackers coach, Sal Sunseri. Sunseri had first recruited Robinson during his short stint at Florida.
"It was like love at first sight," Robinson said. "He is such a relatable and nice guy. Him and my high school coach have the same similarities. Off the field, they are some of the nicest people in the world. But once you get on the field, it is time to go to work."
Robinson's other worldly athleticism and length — which has already landed him an invitation to play in the Adidas All-American Game in San Antonio in January — could help him see the playing field sooner rather than later when he joins the team next fall.
After this season, Alabama will lose senior linebacker Anfernee Jennings and likely now-juniors Dylan Moses and Terrell Lewis as early departures for the NFL. Regardless of the potential gaps in the depth chart, Robinson vows not to back down from the challenge of competing against the other 4- and 5-star recruits on the roster.
"Everyone who goes to Alabama has a chip on their shoulder," Robinson said. "I have never been scared of competition. I want to bring something to Alabama that no one has ever brought before. I feel like I have something to prove. I am going to be that guy who goes 100 on every play."
Before Robinson can move off to Tuscaloosa to follow in the footsteps of the legendary linebacker lineage that precedes him, he must take care of business for the Mustangs in 2019.
Robinson says the goals for this Jackson-Olin team are simple: Do not get ahead of yourself, and if you do the little things right the winning on the field will take care of itself.
"We can not get a big head," Robinson said. "Every team on our schedule is good, it is just a matter of who is more passionate and who wants it more. I am trying to make sure our guys stay passionate and true to the game. You have to do the little things first like going to class and acting right in class and then it will translate to the field."
Mustang head coach Tim Vakakes says the best qualities Robinson has, is not what he can do on the field, but it is his intangibles that make him different.
"When you talk about Q, he is obviously a big, strong, and a good player," Vakakes said. "But his humility is what is going to separate him. Every one at Alabama is going to love him. You are not going to have any problems with Q. His character is so good.
"He deserves everything he gets."