After dealing with a season-ending injury last season and being a crucial role in Purvis’ turnaround season, quarterback Hunter Robinson is ready to make his return to the football field.
Hunter Robinson won the job of starting quarterback after the Tornados’ 2-8 season in 2018.
But the start of 2019 shared remnants of 2018 after Purvis was shut out opening day and had an 0-3 start to the season. However, as Robinson became more comfortable, the offense slowly showed improvement. According to Purvis coach Brad Hankins, Robinson is like having a coach inside the huddle.
“He played well for us,” Hankins said. “He is a natural leader. He’s a coach on the field type of thing. He gets everybody in a good position, and when I make a bad call, he can fix it. It’s kind of like having an extension of the coaching staff out there in the huddle. His play is even better.”
In the first three games, Purvis averaged just 16 points per game, but Robinson began to find success in running the offense.
After a 39-36 loss to Pass Christian in Week 3, Purvis went on a five-game win streak averaging 31 points per game. As Robinson found control in the offense, he slowly emerged as a dual-threat quarterback who was successfully leading a run-heavy offense that averaged 188 yards a game.
On the ground, Robinson rushed for 252 yards averaging 4.8 yards per carry and five touchdowns. At the same time, Robinson held a 108.7 quarterback rating, throwing for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
While Purvis held a 5-3 record, the Tornadoes then faced Poplarville, which derailed Robinson’s season as he suffered a season-ending injury in the 61-0 loss.
“We ran belly right, and I turned and mishandled the handoff,” Robinson said. “I dived on the ball, and all I remember is sticking my arm out and then just pain in my whole body and shoulder.
“The moment I got hurt, the only thought I had was if I was going to be ready for baseball because I knew football was over with.”
Robinson dislocated his shoulder and pulled his labrum, which required season-ending surgery. From there, Robinson underwent what he described as a character-building process.
“It was a hard process,” Robinson said. “Going to physical therapy really taught me character. They would give me a one-pound weight, and I couldn’t lift it off the table. Getting back to where I can swing a bat, throw a ball, and be the athlete I was before I got hurt taught me a lot. It was tough, but I’m glad I got that out of the way.
“Leadership was big. Being able to show my personality and leadership off the field. It’s hard sitting out there and watching someone else play your position, and it took a lot out of me.”
Despite struggling to deal with his injury, Robinson was crucial in helping backup quarterback Walker Flatt, who managed to earn a win and get the Tornados into the playoffs.
“I went from being the quarterback to not exactly being a cheerleader on the field but more of a leader on the (sideline),” Robinson said. “I showed my team that even though I’m not on the field, I can still be there. I was there for Walker and helped him through the three games we had to play and taught him things that I knew that he didn’t.”
Robinson is now expected to take on a larger role and be more responsible for changing plays and doing more quarterback runs.
“We’ll put more responsibility on him, but nothing I don’t think he can handle,” Hankins said. “Give him a few more situations to change some plays, do somethings of that nature and then turn him loose to be the athlete he is.”
For Robinson, staying healthy and becoming faster and stronger are his goals for the upcoming season and ensuring he reproduces his leadership from the previous season.
“I’ve been working on my speed and gaining weight because I am a little guy,” Robinson said. “I put on about 10 pounds over this month and a half. I’m trying to get bigger and throwing the ball a little bit better. We are a fast team this year. We have some gritty guys, and I think this will be a scrappy offense.
“Staying healthy is a big thing, but I want to keep doing what I was doing last year. I want to keep being the leader that I am and going out there 100 percent every play.”