ORONO — When University of Maine quarterback Chris Ferguson suffered an injury Saturday at Central Michigan, backup Isaiah Robinson was told to get into the game.

As he prepared to head out to the huddle, Robinson was grabbed by defensive end Jamehl Wiley. The two had been high school teammates at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. Wiley had one message for Robinson: “This is the moment you’ve been training for. It’s time to go.”

There’s a very good chance Robinson, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound redshirt freshman from Bowie, Maryland, will start at quarterback Saturday when 16th-ranked Maine (2-1) plays at Yale (1-1). Ferguson is still nursing an injured right shoulder and Robinson has taken the majority of snaps with the first-team offense this week in practice.

And the Black Bears, coming off a 17-5 loss to Central Michigan, have faith in Robinson.

“Isaiah is a great leader, a great athlete, a great teammate” said senior linebacker Sterling Sheffield. “Nobody on this team is lacking confidence, especially him. He’s going to have a good game.”

Sophomore cornerback Jordan Swann, who transferred to Maine from Connecticut, also played at St. Frances.

“The one thing I can say about Isaiah is that he’s confident,” said Swann, who was a wide receiver in high school. “He has an extraordinary amount of confidence. That’s something I’ve seen since I met him.”

“He’s very intelligent, very confident,” said Wiley, who also played tight end in high school. “And he carried a chip on his shoulder: ‘Nobody is better than me.’ Even though he didn’t start right away, that didn’t faze his confidence at all.”

Against Central Michigan, Robinson completed 16 of 32 passes for 162 yards with two interceptions. He was also sacked five times, but his mobility allowed him to escape several others. “There are always things you wish you did better,” said Robinson. “But for the first game it was OK.”

If there is a difference between Ferguson and Robinson, it’s Robinson’s ability to run.

“It comes naturally to me,” said Robinson. “I have a mental clock. If I don’t see anything in three seconds, it’s either take off and run or try to extend the play and try to find an open man downfield. I try to keep my eyes up when I’m in the pocket moving around because you never know what’s going to pop open.”

Senior wide receiver Micah Wright said that aspect of Robinson’s game “kind of makes my job easier. Once he moves out of the pocket, it’s like a free-for-all. Get open. And it’s harder for the defense to stay with you when he’s running around.”

But other than that, Wright doesn’t see a whole lot of difference between the two.

“The difference at this point is just experience,” he said. “We all have supreme confidence in both guys, that whoever is out there is going to get the job done, take care of the ball and everything.”

Coach Joe Harasymiak said Robinson has earned everyone’s trust with his hard work and preparation. “I’m sure we’ll have our moments if he’s the starter, just like we did with Ferg last year,” said Harasymiak. “It’s just that they can’t be the critical errors.”

Wiley said he and Robinson, who have roomed together the last two years, have always talked about being ready. “That’s what they preach here,” he said. “They want everyone ready because you never know what’s going to happen. You just have to work, and that’s what we’ve been doing for years now.”

Wiley’s decision to come to Maine was important to Robinson, knowing he would have a friend here. Coming from a big city, he wasn’t sure what life in so far away Maine would be like.

“I feel I got more in touch with myself as a person,” he said. “And as a football player I feel I can just work out anytime because there’s less distractions than at home. So I feel I can better myself. I try to get one percent better every day. That’s my mantra.”

Robinson, Wiley and Swann hang out together, play Madden (the football video game) all the time and will often talk about their high school days. Wiley will lament that Robinson “never even looked my way” on pass plays. Swann will tease Robinson about the two interceptions he had off him in their junior year, when Swann played at a different school.

“We talk a lot about our high school times,” said Robinson. “And now that we’re playing in college with each other, it’s amazing.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.