As the final Trojan SideLines Man Behind the Facemask segment for this year, I highlighted cornerback Nickell Robey, 19. Robey is going to be a junior next year. He is majoring in Public Policy, Planning and Development, in hopes of one day owning his own redevelopment company.
This Frostproof, Fla. native took his talents to Southern California and has quickly become one of the most dominant cornerbacks in the Pac-12. Robey has been playing football since he was 6 and fell in love with the game. Following in his father’s footsteps, Robey played defensive cornerback.
“My dad put a football in my hand at a young age, and it became my culture. [Football] grew with me, and I grew with football. It was something everybody did, and I wanted to be a part of something special,” he says.
Robey is the true definition of a Trojan “fighting on.” Besides facing adversity on the field, he faced an even bigger obstacle in his life. Robey’s mother passed away last year from a heart attack, but even with that he uses her as a motivation to succeed not only on the field, but in the classroom too.
“It was hard, but being away from home and all the memories and all the stuff that reminds me of her helps me cope,” he says. “But [what keeps me motivated is] knowing that 1) I got to get my degree. I told my mom I was going to get my degree … I promised her. Also, I want to be able to have a better life in the future. Having a degree is something that can’t be taken away, you earned it and it’s yours.”
No matter how far away from home he is, his sister and family always come first. Robey has had big highlights this season including, intercepting Stanford QB Andrew Luck and returning the ball for a touchdown. But to Robey, there was an ever better moment this season.
“Most memorable moment is when my sister came out here on my mom’s birthday, and we beat Washington badly. It was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. I played great, my family was out here and we did some shopping, ate In-N-Out; we did a little bit of everything, and I just can’t wait to be home.”
The Trojans will get a small break before getting back to work for next season. For Robey, he is counting down the days.
“My plans are to go back to Florida and do some working out, but more importantly be with the family and do family activities; I want to kick it with the people that I always kicked it with in high school, and I have time to be with those people. I’m pretty jacked up to be going home.”
When he returns, he has a lot to work for next season as the Trojans will finally be lifted from their bowl ban sanction. The Trojans will be able to reclaim the reigns of the Pac-12 and contend for their first Pac-12 Championship.
“I’m looking forward to an undefeated season. I take every year seriously. We’re going to come in with the right planning and pick up where we left off from this season. I hope [Matt] Barkley stays. I want him to stay, we need him bad,” he says. “The odds were against us in every opponent we went against. We must [bask in the glow] in this moment of beating Oregon, and shutting out UCLA. USC is back. I said it, I been said it and now I’m saying it again.”
With all the success, Robey states that he stays humble by knowing why and whom he is playing football for, and he just tries to stay in his boundaries of keeping a level head. So where can you find Robey when he’s not on the field?
“You can catch me at my spot. I chill at the crib and watch movies. You might catch me at the mall, might catch me eating at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles on a good day. I don’t know, you might find me anywhere. There’s no telling with me.”
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