By Rick Assad
When it comes to stepping on to a football field and a baseball diamond, no one feels more relaxed and at home than Dylan Robinson.
If you count all the practice time and games he’s played since his first season at Burbank High, it will total hundreds of hours.
Performing double duty isn’t easy as it demands a certain mindset and grit and determination, which Robinson has.
“Being a multi-sport athlete over my last three years required dedication to both my academics and sports programs. As I enjoy both sports very much, I didn’t find it hard playing two sports and being a student,” he said. “It was important to schedule time to address my schoolwork which might mean giving up social time to make up for time spent at practices and games falling on various days.”
Robinson, who passed for 1,585 yards and ran for 762 yards that included four games over 100 yards while adding 76 receiving yards as a junior, wasn’t alone and had help along the way.
“Coaches for both sports have let us know how important grades are,” he said. “As a student-athlete, knowing there are great teachers here to provide additional support during their free time when we need them helped tremendously.”
This month the football season begins and Robinson, who finished with 13 passing touchdowns and nine rushing scores in 2021, is ready for what’s ahead.
“All of those players that have come before me have always said the four years go by so fast. It truly has, especially with the COVID impact to the season’s games we were allowed to play,” he said. “We lost our freshman spring baseball season and had a shortened sophomore football season the following year.”
Robinson added: “I have played in and observed my past senior teammates as they played their last senior season games. It is a very special and emotional time for all of us on game days,” he said. “I’m approaching this year’s football and baseball seasons with excitement. Competing with my teammates together before we graduate.”
Though not the prototypical drop-back quarterback, Robinson, who stands 5-foot-7 and weighs 160 pounds, has flourished.
“I think I’m a little of both. I never thought of playing quarterback until high school. I was always a slot receiver or a defensive back,” he said of the switch. “During summer practice of my freshman year, the coaches asked me to play quarterback. I told them I would do whatever the team needed. With that said, I think I just bring some of all the other positions played into the quarterback spot.”
When the signal-calling position became available, Robinson, who has shown an interest in attending and playing football for California Lutheran University, Whittier College, the University of Puget Sound and the University of La Verne, went ahead full bore.
“What I have liked about the opportunity to play quarterback is that I’ve learned the importance of leadership, and decisions made on the field have an impact on the game,” he said. “Looking down field and throwing for a touchdown is an amazing feeling and I crave doing it again. I appreciate the confidence my teammates show me by believing in me.”
Burbank football coach Adam Colman appreciates Robinson’s skill and leadership qualities.
“Dylan is incredibly unselfish and determined. Entering high school, he had never played quarterback but had the best arm of the group and got thrust into the role,” he said. “It’s not an easy role to take on but he has excelled. He’s always trying to do what’s best for the team. At the next level, he might be a slot receiver or running back, even as a defensive back. But he knows he is most valuable to our team as a quarterback so that’s where he plays. He really personifies team-first mentality and that’s so valuable from a leader.”
Fast and clever with a strong arm, Robinson has a full toolbox at his disposal and that allows him to stay ahead of the curve.
“I’m not sure what my best asset is in football, but I’ve been told it’s my ability to change direction, cutting and planting,” he said. “In baseball I’ve also been told my best assets are my arm and my speed.”
Colman saw firsthand Robinson improve with each game and expects a breakout campaign in 2022.
“He’s also constantly working to get better. If you’re on our campus you’ll see him running from football practice to baseball practice to the weight room to a classroom to study during lunch,” he said. “He really gives it his all in everything he does. He’s his own harshest critic and is never satisfied. He really sets the tone for the team in that way.”
What makes football and baseball fun to play?
“I have enjoyed playing football since third grade. What I like about playing football is the bond it builds with my teammates. I also like the physicality and mental toughness it requires. Football has an intensity that we all go through together as a team,” he said. “Another experience I enjoy is the roar of the crowd from the families and students underneath the Friday Night Lights. Like football, baseball is a part of me. I have played baseball since I was four years old, and I enjoy all the aspects of baseball. Stealing bases, diving to catch a ball, the strategy behind different moves being made. I just really enjoy playing the game.”
Burbank baseball coach Bob Hart concurs with Colman. “Dylan is a straight up guy who shows up on time and is committed and in his case to more than one sport,” he said of the right fielder, who also spent one season playing at the junior varsity level. “He is a gifted athlete but an even better person and teammate.”
Can a non-contact sport like baseball really help playing a contact sport like football? Robinson said that it does.
“Yes, playing baseball does help with playing football,” he noted. “It keeps my mind and body active and keeps me moving and competing while letting my body still rest from the contact part of a football season.”
Fit as a fiddle and tough as nails, Robinson is always in tip-top shape, which assists him throughout the two seasons.
“To prepare for each sport I go to my trainer Andrew Belsito three times a week to focus on strength and endurance. I study film, and work on the feedback I get from my coaches,” he said. “Playing football in the fall also prepares me physically for baseball in the spring with all the conditioning and throwing. Just as playing baseball in spring keeps my mind and body ready to slide over into football in the summer.”
Putting on the baseball and football uniforms is a thrill and when you add you’re playing your longtime rival Burroughs, then it’s magical.
Several generations of Robinson’s family played sports and they partially include his great grandfather Paul Merlo who played baseball at Burbank and his grandmother Joan Merlo [Robinson].
“The Burbank and Burroughs rivalry is still strong on the field and at home. Both of my parents [George and Michelle] played sports for Burroughs and my brother [Justin] and I have played for Burbank,” he said. “I have many of my former teammates that I played with growing up in the city on the Burroughs teams for both sports. We had played together from third grade flag football up through Vikings in eighth grade and on the same baseball teams from kindergarten through eighth grade. At the end of the game, no matter who wins I will still hug them and shake their hands.”
Robinson, who owns a 3.53 grade-point average, still has a year before his high school career is over but knows that it will come soon enough.
“What really stands out to me are all the friendships I’ve made with former and current teammates and coaches,” he said. “Many things I’ve learned in various situations from these important people in my life will help me in the future.”