MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Whitehaven's Devon Robinson is now technically a Mississippi State Bulldog, but Friday night, the former Tigers star defensive lineman will represent Team USA in the under 19 International Bowl game against Team Canada.
It's an accomplishment that's possible because of the groundwork laid by his grandfather Stan Collins years ago.
Robinson has come a long way since his pee wee football days.
"He could barely fit in that big ole helmet that they had on. It would fall on his face, and what have you, but he stayed out there and look what it's turned out to be for him," Collins said.
Whitehaven had the top defense in Shelby County in 2017, in part because of Robinson's relentless play.
He earned the Touchdown Club of Memphis Defensive Player of the Year Award for his efforts, and more importantly, a D-I scholarship to play football at Mississippi State.
Friday, he'll represent the entire nation in the International Bowl against Team Canada, and for Robinson, it all goes back to Stan Collins' teachings as head coach of the Tigers from 1979-1997.
Collins always preached that football is a means to an end. His former players took it to heart.
Two of those players just so happen to be current Whitehaven principal Vincent Hunter, and current Tigers head football coach Rodney Saulsberry.
They're guys who used Collins' teaching to enrich their lives, and in turn, enrich the lives of their students--which includes Robinson.
"It has gone 360--in that my grandson is getting the opportunity to use football as a means to an end," Collins said.
But Collins said he can't take all the credit. The Whitehaven community deserves to be recognized for how it takes care of its own.
"People always say it takes a village to raise a child, and that has really happened in the Whitehaven situation. Wherever they know the kids, and it's hard for kids to get away with something," Collins said.