Wednesday September 26, 2012Sam Robey: Stepping Out of the Shadows
By Anthony Prisco, UF Communications
He was a national champion, an All-American, one of the top selections in the professional draft and enjoyed eight years playing professionally. There are many Gator Greats that fit this description. If one was to describe this person to redshirt senior offensive lineman Sam Robey, he would think of one person: his father, Rick Robey.
For as long as he can remember, Sam Robey has been known as the son of the University of Kentucky basketball star. His father, Rick, was a member of the Wildcats’ 1978 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship team. His father is also one of the 42 people to have their jersey retired at UK. Professionally, he was the third overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft and a member of the 1981 Boston Celtics’ title-winning team.
When it came to his own athletic career, the younger Robey chose the football field, where he enjoyed a successful prep career at Trinity High School in Louisville. At Trinity, he led the team to three-consecutive state titles, earning three first-team all-state honors along the way. Robey was also a co-recipient of the 2007 Paul Hornung Award, presented to the top high school player in Kentucky.
Many colleges came calling, looking to add Robey to their team’s roster. When it came to selecting where he would continue his athletic career, Robey already had something in mind.
“I wanted to get out of Kentucky,” Robey said. “I was tired of living in the shadow. If I had stayed in Kentucky, I would have been the son of the former UK All-American. I wanted to get away from home and to go somewhere where I did not know anybody, just to get away from everything.”
Determined to be something more than the son of a University of Kentucky great, Robey set his sights on the best athletic and academic programs across the nation.
“I wanted to play for the best football team and I wanted to win,” the Bluegrass State native acknowledged.
With winning in mind, Robey chose the University of Florida. This course of action was not something new to him. When choosing a high school to attend, Robey chose Trinity over rival St. Xavier, despite many of his friends going to the latter institution. Trinity defeated St. Xavier in the state final his senior year. Robey’s father made a similar choice when deciding to attend UK. The New Orleans native chose to leave home to play for the top-ranked Wildcats.
Despite being the only player from the state of Kentucky, Robey did not struggle with the difficult adjustment to Florida. In his first year on campus, Robey was a part of the Orange and Blue’s 2008 National Championship team. Due to an injury, he took a medical redshirt that season, but he still dressed out for the SEC Championship Game against Alabama in the Georgia Dome and the FedEx BCS National Championship Game against Oklahoma in Miami.
Robey credits former Gators Phil Trautwein and Brandon Spikes as players to whom he looked up to as helping him to become the player that he is today. Despite playing only one year on the offensive line with Trautwein, Robey admired his work ethic and professionalism. He also liked the way that Spikes treated everyone on the team the same. At this past spring’s Orange & Blue Debut, Spikes spoke to Robey for over an hour after not seeing him in over two years.
“He still treats everyone the same and that is why he is so respected,” Robey spoke of the New England Patriots’ linebacker.
Another person who Robey said helped him was his father. Since he was in high school, his father always pushed him academically and athletically. Although he credits his mother for his good marks in the classroom, as shown by being named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll while at UF, Robey’s father always emphasized putting school and athletics first. He also mentioned that his father aided him in staying focused and level-headed.
In his tenure as a Gator, Robey has seen action in 35 games. He played in the 2010 Allstate Sugar Bowl romp over previously-unbeaten Cincinnati and in the 2012 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl victory against Ohio State.
Today’s game against Kentucky will mark the final time that Robey will take the field against his native Wildcats, an experience that he has always looks forward to.
“Playing against Kentucky is great because I am able to play against guys I played with and against in high school,” he reflected. “Some of them are my good friends.”
UK’s Matt Smith played at rival St. Xavier and was one of the players Robey said he is friendly with on the team. When it comes time to play though, friendship will be put aside: “I’m ready to win.”
With his career at the University of Florida coming to a close at the end of this season, Robey reflected on his time as a member of the Gator football program.
“It was nothing that I would have experienced in Kentucky,” he acknowledged. “I have met so many people who have influenced me in so many different ways. It is something that I could never give up. I would never change my decision.”
Sam Robey may always be known as the son of Rick Robey, one of the University of Kentucky’s finest basketball players, but he will always be a Florida Gator and never forget his time at the University of Florida.