NFA has always been about family.
Players that start honing their football skills as youngsters and stick with NFA through high school are part of the family.
The coaching staff is one big, highly-skilled family.
Then there are the Robisons, who have taken the family aspect of NFA to an impressive level.
In addition to coaching football at the collegiate and high school levels, Rod Robison has been with NFA for the past decade, and he was the first winner of the Jeff Menage Award.
“Great person, great football coach,” said NFA founder/president Darin Slack. “We spent 53 days on the road one summer. If there is a guy on our team that has embodied the kinds of things that Jeff did, it’s Rod Robison.”
Heidi Robison, Rod’s wife, is also involved with NFA. For the past three years, she’s handled logistics and merchandise at NFA camps.
“It’s wonderful,” Heidi said. “I was thinking about it, we’re very lucky to all speak the same language.”
Sonny Robison is the son of Rod and Heidi, and he’s been training at NFA camps for the past 10 years. The promising quarterback will be a senior at Carter High School in Rialto, Calif., next season.
“It’s been great,” Sonny said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for NFA and the camps I’ve been through and my dad being involved with NFA. What they do for quarterbacks, from the youth level up to college and even coming into the pros, it’s just tremendous. I don’t think there’s another company out there that focuses so much on the details and the specifics of the quarterback position. It’s been a great experience and I’m so happy my dad got involved with NFA. They bring so much to the table. It’s been a great experience and each and every camp continues to be a great experience for me.”
After playing varsity football as a QB as a freshman and sophomore at two different high schools in Nevada before the family relocated to California last May, Sonny Robison has found a home at Carter H.S.
“When I was coming in, it was a little bit different just because the competition here was much better than the football in Nevada,” Robison said. “At first, it was a little shocking. But the quarterback that was a junior last year, he was more of a better fit for tight end and linebacker. So it actually worked out real well that I was able to step in and kind of compete with him and maybe give us a little bit of an upper hand so he could move into another position. It was really easy to come down here, get to know the team and bond with those guys. It’s been a real fun experience.”
Sonny Robison actually made the move look easy. Probably easier than it really was.
“I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments, both on the field and off the field,” Heidi Robison said. “He keeps an even keel no matter what. He is able to keep an even temperament and bring positives to the team. And I’m really proud of his school work as well.”
After taking over for Brett Hernandez at quarterback for Carter last season, Robison passed for almost 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for nearly 100 and another score.
“Transferring to Carter, a big thing I wanted to do was take the next step after playing freshman and sophomore ball at the varsity level,” said the 6-foot, 185-pound Robison. “I wanted to step up my game. It was nice to transfer down to Southern Cal and be able to play with a group of better athletes and a little more competition. I was excited to do that. We were only 7-3 and maybe I didn’t have the greatest stats, but I thought it wasa good year to kind of get the ball rolling and hopefully get some college looks. I tried to improve my craft as far as being able to throw the ball around as an athlete and make myself a little bit better.”
The Lions play in the rugged Citrus Belt League, and they did not qualify for the California state playoffs despite the 7-3 record.
Ring’s the thing
As he prepares for his senior year at Carter, extending the season is a major goal for Robison.
“Playing three years of high school at three different schools has been a little challenging,” he said. “But whatever team I play on, we want to get a ring. That’s always been the goal. There are personal stats but at the end of the day, it’s all about making the playoffs and taking the team to state. I was disappointed my junior year, going 7-3 and not making the playoffs. That’s been the biggest motivator for me. I want to get that ring and I want to get that ring for the team. Throwing for over 2,500 yards and rushing for over 1,000 are great goals to have, but at the end of the day, the ring is what matters.”
While he always trained with NFA as a quarterback, Robison didn’t play the position until he was a freshman in high school.
“I was a running back in Pop Warner and Youth League,” he said. “I would go to NFA camps and train as a quarterback and end up as a running back in youth ball.”
Given his upbringing and NFA experience, Robison didn’t stress while patiently waiting to get his shot at QB. He actually made the most of the situation.
“I always felt like playing running back while I was training to be a quarterback, that helped me tremendously,” Robison said. “Playing in the backfield for so long, you kind of get a feel. And I think that helped me as far as being able to run the ball and kind of having that tougher mentality. It was difficult at times because I felt like I’ve been training as a quarterback and they’re putting me back at running back. But I continued to trust the process and I knew when I got to high school, everything was going to work itself out.”
Now that he is rooted at Carter High School and has one big season under his belt, Robison’s long-time dream of playing college football is starting to come into view.
“That’s always been a high goal for me, since I was a little kid,” he said. “How can I continue to play at the next level? Whether it’s Division I, Division II, Division III, playing JC and transferring, the ultimate goal has always been playing college football. And not only playing at the next level, but being able to compete and dominate at the next level.”
Having played football for so long, Robison is always working on his game and trying to get better. That hasn’t changed this winter.
“I’d like to think of myself as dual threat,” Robison said. “I want to be able to make big plays when the pocket breaks down. As I roll into my senior year, one of the things I could get a little bit better at is staying in the pocket more and become more of a pocket passer while also working on my speed and be able to kind of turn into that dual threat kind of guy.”
As he awaits his senior season of high school and beyond, there is little doubt that Robison’s vast experience with NFA is going to help him reach any and all goals.
“It’s imprinting,” Rod Robison said. “What kids are exposed to, the imprinting, they’ll start to embody it. It’s been 10 years with Sonny and NFA, and I think with the exposure to the NFA program and the coaches and the process, he embodies it. He’s like any other kid, he comes up against himself at times. But the way he handles it has been a very positive experience.”