One of the last to emerge, Josh Robinson walked out of the locker room with a determined look on his face, his eyes darting all over. He’d just run for 197 yards and beat LSU, and all he wanted was to find his friends and family.
The Louisiana native was supposed to go to the media room for interviews, but he was oblivious to the reporters who were watching and waiting a few steps away. He hardly realized what was happening as he walked/ran through the gate and out into the concourse where hundreds of Mississippi State fans were gathered.
The reporters who had been waiting followed Robinson to get pictures of him with the fans. This was an emotional moment for State’s starting running back. It was a homecoming.
Those who were there aren’t even sure if a reporter actually asked a question. Robinson just saw that there were some familiar media faces around him and he started talking. There were fans behind him, fans beside him and fans circled around the media who had somehow found their way to him. Someone started rolling a camera. Voice recorders popped on.
“I had to make a statement tonight,” Robinson said to no one in particular. Then his voice caught. He wiped tears away with a towel from the locker room. He choked out the rest of his thoughts as they came. “It’s just showing you how God works, showing the wonders of what He can do. Whatever you plant, you will harvest.”
Robinson is a passionate guy. Whatever the emotion is, he feels it all the way. It shows when he plays. So, when this game meant a lot to some of MSU’s players from the state of Louisiana, it really meant a lot to Robinson.
The emotion, in this case, equaled 197 yards, two touchdowns and 13 yards per carry.
“I had the mindset that I had to take over the game and have a great homecoming, you know. I came back to my home state.”
See, Robinson wasn’t recruited by LSU. Les Miles and the Tigers figured they’d be ok without him. So, for him to be the star in the backfield that night, and for his teammates to hold those who LSU deemed worthy to run the ball to 89 yards total, meant the world to Robinson. And he did it in his home state, in front of the people he grew up with.
“I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was 10,” he said. “Just to see it, just to see how God works – it’s a blessing.”
That surreal scene for Robinson came over an hour after the game had ended.
But just moments following the final whistle, another one happened as a player approached the crowd.
Few people, if any, have taken more heat the last few years than MSU’s field goal kickers. Dan Mullen has constantly stuck up for them, while the rest outside the locker room have sometimes been less willing to do so.
Sophomore Evan Sobiesk came into 2014 as the assumed starter at placekicker. But when he lined up for the kick against LSU in the second quarter, it was his first field goal attempt of the season. For all the talk, he hadn’t kicked a single field goal since last season. Not in a game, anyway.
But when he finally got the chance, he nailed it. Later on, he drilled a second one right down the pipe. He made every extra point, too. In a game MSU won by five points, Sobiesk’s six points worth of field goals were the difference between victory and defeat. He was responsible for 10 points all told.
When the game ended, MSU’s entire team ran to the section of Bulldog fans sitting by the field. It was one of the biggest wins in years for State. Certainly the biggest one of the Mullen era.
And when the players came to the fans who had crossed state lines to cheer on their team, they heard one chant coming out of the stands.
“SO-BI-ESK! SO-BI-ESK! SO-BI-ESK!”
Of all the heroes, all the stars, all the big plays and all the history in that win, it was the sophomore kicker who got his name called. And he earned it.
“That…” Sobiesk began as he tried to articulate the feeling in the moment. “That was pretty awesome.”
“I always knew I could do it,” he told reporters after the game. “I can’t really take any credit. I give credit to my long-snapper Winston. Dak’s the holder. The line is big up front. In reality, I’m just taking three [steps] back, two over. It’s everybody else that does everything.”
In his moment(s) of glory, Sobiesk deferred praise to those around him. But his head coach was quick to give him credit; the credit he thinks Sobiesk deserves.
“No one believes me when I say they’re really good at practice,” Mullen said with a laugh in his voice. “That’s nothing we haven’t seen in practice. Let’s get everybody to blow up Twitter about how great he is.”
Like Robinson, Sobiesk had dreamed of this moment. He told reporters about it as Mullen’s wife Megan snuck up behind him to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. She was as happy for “Sobes” as her husband was.
Sobiesk continued the answer the question he’d been asked, saying he grew up going to LSU games, despite being from Mississippi. His older brother had attended and graduated from LSU. His best friend in high school is a junior in Baton Rouge now.
“So this was a pretty cool experience,” he said, “being able to come back and actually play as a player.”
The win meant a great deal to a lot of people. Robinson and Sobiesk know that as well as any.