For three years, Corbin Robertson handled one of the most thankless roles that a football player can be asked to do.
The Granite Bear senior was listed on the roster as a defensive tackle and center for three Mount Airy teams that won 35 games and reached the 1AA state championship game in his final season, but Robertson’s main role on the team was as the Bears’ long snapper — a very important job that unfortunately rarely gets noticed unless the snapper makes a mistake.
Robertson didn’t make many, and that earned him interest from several collegiate programs. On March 9, he joined six of his teammates in signing a National Letter of Intent, choosing to continue his football career for Chowan University.
“They originally weren’t even on my radar,” said Robertson of the Hawks, who compete in the NCAA Division II Central Collegiate Athletic Association. “I hadn’t been to the school or anything. Coach (Tim) Place, their head coach, reached out to me and I got an offer around Christmas time, and I just felt like that was where God wanted me to be.”
Robertson had achieved recognition as a college football prospect over the previous 18 months, in large part due to several appearances at Rubio Long Snapping, a national training program for high school and junior college long-snappers. Robertson won one of their regional competitions in April of 2017. In his senior year, he was pursued by a number of college programs in the region, but said that Chowan felt like the right place for him.
To loyal fans of Mount Airy football, Robertson’s name will long be linked with one of his teammates who also signed that day, placekicker Robert Brown. Brown had a record-setting career as the Bears’ kicker, and Robertson played a major role in nearly all of those accomplishments, making sure the ball got to the holder quickly and accurately, and then keeping a defender from barging through the middle to try to block the kicks.
It’s perhaps fitting that both Robertson and Brown cited the same play as one of their best memories of their three years as Granite Bear teammates. On September 11, 2015, Brown kicked a 40-yard field goal in the final seconds against North Surry, giving Mount Airy a 16-15 win in a game they had trailed by 12 points.
“It was my first year on varsity and my third game, and I had to go out there and snap the ball for the winning field goal,” Robertson said. “I thought that was pretty exciting.”
Robertson acquired the skill that earned him a spot in college football more out of necessity than by design. As a member of the team at Mount Airy Middle School, he was assigned the thankless duty of long-snapping by default.
“We didn’t have a long snapper, and we had to have one,” he recalled. “I was the center, so they told me to do it, and I was pretty good at it. I enjoyed it and just kept on doing it.”
Eventually, it became a specialty for Robertson that he pursued through middle school, a season of JV football for the Bears, and then through three varsity season where Mount Airy won two Northwest 1A Conference titles and was state runner-up last December. Along the way, he won All-State honors from NCPreps.com as a long snapper in 2016.
Chowan puts a strong emphasis on its special teams, and outperformed its opponents by a wide margin in that department last fall. Adding Robertson should help them maintain that edge over the next four seasons as the Hawks try to rise out of the middle of the pack in the CIAA.
He is currently undecided on a major, but said it will probably be “either religion or sports management, probably religion.”
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.