Whittington, Robinson cite patience, faith in God as stabilizing force through adversity

Carter Yates

Arguably the two most buzz-generating Longhorns during spring football have barely scratched the surface of their potential thus far in their collegiate career.

Sophomore wide receiver Jordan Whittington came to Texas as a five-star recruit in 2019 after a six-touchdown performance in Cuero High School’s 2018 state championship game. As a Longhorn, however, he hasn’t recorded as many total yards in two years as he did in that single game. Whittington missed all but one game of his freshman year in 2019 and only played five games as a redshirt freshman in 2020 due to injuries.

“The first two years were very frustrating. I went through a dark time,” Whittington said in a Tuesday press conference. “I just kept my trust in God, and I told myself, ‘If I’m going to quit, God’s going to have to literally walk in my room and tell me to.’ … I feel like I’m on the bright side. I’m glad I didn’t stop going.”

New head coach Steve Sarkisian has been effusive in his praise for Whittington this spring, citing his explosive athleticism and overall football IQ in quickly learning the new scheme. Sophomore running back Bijan Robinson said he is enjoying watching Whittington shine in practice after overcoming so much adversity.

“Seeing him bounce back from all the injuries and the bad things that happened in his life — it’s a blessing to see him come back and really take advantage of the time he’s had here in the spring,” Robinson said.

Robinson isn’t just giving advice for Whittington’s sake. He’s trying to put his own words into action.

Like Whittington, Robinson was a five-star prospect and the crown jewel of Texas’ 2020 recruiting class. But success didn’t come easily during his freshman season.

While he finished his freshman campaign with 703 rushing yards and 8.2 yards per carry, it took him longer than expected to become the featured running back. Robinson didn’t crack the 100-yard game mark until Nov. 7 against West Virginia, and he didn’t score his first collegiate touchdown until Dec. 5 against Kansas State.

Robinson’s last two games of his freshman season have fans itching to see what he can do in Sarkisian’s offense. The 6-foot, 215-pound back rushed for a combined 355 yards and four touchdowns against Kansas State and in the Alamo Bowl against Colorado.

“I would say (the biggest lesson I learned was) patience,” Robinson said. “Things will open up as they did last season. I feel that if we can stay patient and know what God has for all of us and keep that right mentality to be our best every day … That’s a big step for me.”

The Orange-White Spring Game is set for Saturday and will mark the first time since Dec. 29 that the Texas football team will play in front of a live audience. The scrimmage will be an opportunity to show fans the progress that the entire team has made over the offseason, Whittington said.

“Being able to be out there and show the new offense, new staff in front of the best fans in the nation — I’m looking forward to it,” Whittington said. “I’m glad they’ve stuck with us this long.”