People’s evictions spread thanks to an unlikely source.
Earlier this summer, Dorian Thompson-Robinson retweeted a review of his game to nearly 17,000 followers. He wasn’t trying to prove anyone wrong or motivate himself or send any kind of message.
The UCLA quarterback shared sports betting analyst Brandon Walker’s words because they rang true.
“At some point this season,” Walker wrote in June, “you’re going to bet on UCLA because you convinced yourself that Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a good QB and you’re going to be disappointed.” Every year.”
As defiant as he was, Thompson-Robinson acknowledged that the criticism coincidentally reflected the unfulfilled promise of his first four years as a Bruin.
“You all watch, you all know football, I’m going to sit here and act like you don’t know anything about the game,” Thompson-Robinson told the media, “yeah, always. there are some truths; if it’s not true, he won’t say it.”
To be fair, many of UCLA’s recent failures are not the fault of its quarterback. The Bruins couldn’t muster a defensive stop to beat Fresno State, or a touchdown to upset Oregon after Thompson-Robinson left with an injury, or a decent shot to prevent USC’s last-minute rally.
The details were not important. The bottom line, in Thompson-Robinson’s mind, was that he was the leader of a team that didn’t win.
As he reflected on the pain of the future, with the Bruins steadily atop the Pac-12 by Halloween, Thompson-Robinson envisioned an improvement in his final college season. Since Cade McNown led the Bruins to their last Rose Bowl appearance on January 1, 1999, 30 quarterbacks have passed on from UCLA.
Thompson-Robinson wondered what it would be like to end the national hitting streak, walking onto its home field on Jan. 2, 2023, for UCLA’s first Rose Bowl in nearly a quarter-century. mother.
“I do, every day,” he said. “I dream of being that man.”
“It’s time to step up and walk like a pro, act like a pro, talk like a pro, shoot like a pro, work like a pro, you know, all of those things.”
– Melva Thompson-Robinson, mother of Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Being that guy doesn’t mean replicating McNown or John Sciarra or Gary Beban but staying true to the first and only Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
“I try to be me and do it my way and my coach [Chip] Kelly’s way and the way the team wants it and makes it happen,” Thompson-Robinson said. “Don’t just talk about it, do it.”
It means relentlessly correcting your mistakes and embracing your friends and becoming the best version of yourself. It’s a package that was on full display in the Bruins’ final three games last season, when they won in run-of-the-mill fashion to earn their first winning record since 2015.
Thompson-Robinson made a historic USC touchdown when he took a cornerback and proved that the pen is mightier than the sword by signing a fan hat near the corner of the end zone after another run. It was hard to imagine he would account for six touchdowns — four passing, two rushing — after his first two passes were intercepted.
When Thompson-Robinson returned to the sideline after the second intermission, quarterbacks coach Ryan Gunderson asked about his well-being, the mentor more nervous than his student.
I was like, ‘Hey, are you okay?’ Gunderson recalled this week.
“Dorian said, ‘I’m fine. I’m perfectly fine. They’re on the ground.’ “
” ‘Are you sure?’ “
“‘Yeah, I’m fine. I screwed up. I’m fine. It’s all good.’ “
Indeed it was. Thompson-Robinson completed 16 of its last 20 passes en route to a 62-33 victory, the most points scored by UCLA in the century-old contest.
A month later, the Bruins were scheduled to play nationally ranked North Carolina State in the Holiday Bowl. It was a chance to show how much the team has improved under their incoming coach and quarterback.
The morning of the game, Thompson-Robinson was taking a shower in her San Diego hotel room, listening to music on her phone. Songs cut out, phone calls and text messages ruining the vibe.
Thompson-Robinson exited the bathroom, quickly dropping her towel to check her phone. There was an emergency crew meeting. He knew what that meant.
“When we have emergencies, they’re not emergencies,” Thompson-Robinson said.
The game was cancelled. Too many UCLA players have tested positive for COVID-19 to safely play bowls. Kelly spoke up, crying in front of her team.
The season is over.
Many expected that to also mark the end of Thompson-Robinson’s college career. He played four seasons and held several school records. Kelly told his quarterback that he was ready for the NFL.
No, Thompson-Robinson decided. There were more yards to gain. More success for counting. Make more memories.
He will earn his bachelor’s degree in African American studies after completing two classes this fall. He attended UCLA’s summer commencement ceremony to join others in preparation for graduation. He also holds the UCLA records for career passing yards, total offense, completions and rushing yards by a quarterback.
More important are the team’s goals. First conference title since 1998. The first major bowl game of this century. Restoring the UCLA football brand.
Everything will start with love. Thompson-Robinson invited teammates Zach Charbonnet, Jake Bobo and Titus Mokiao-Atimalala to organize a summer camp for about 70 underprivileged Native American children in Mesa, Ariz. Football flings were just part of it, Bruins also delivered messages about the importance of staying in school and finding love.
On the eve of preseason camp, Thompson-Robinson hosted the entire offense on a yacht cruise around Marina del Rey funded by the proceeds from his wealth of names, photos and the like. As the players sipped barbecue and scored goals, Thompson-Robinson said it was his last shot at something special and he would give everything he had to his teammates in the hope they would do the same for him.
Before the evening was over, most everyone took out their phones to record the dolphins swimming in the water.
Bobo said; “I’ve never been that close to a dolphin, so it was cool.”
That’s the kind of bond that allowed Thompson-Robinson to negotiate tough negotiations without anyone getting too hot. He told the young players what they need to do to earn playing time and what others can do better to help the team.
“It’s a thermostat — it sets the temperature in there and I love it, I love it,” Gunderson said. Sometimes we have to pick it up or cool it down a little bit, but you don’t want a guy who’s a thermometer and just takes the temperature and adjusts accordingly; you want a man who has some presence and can pick people up or attract people.
Although Thompson-Robinson remains part of an offense that boasts impressive power back, doubts persist. The media picked UCLA to finish fourth in the Pac-12 despite dual Heisman Trophy nominees in Thompson-Robinson and Charbonnet.
After the team’s three-game losing streak — and three losses — over her college career, she hit Twitter writers with her “Don’t be a fan again” and “Friends in the fans” taglines, asking her fans for attention. mother important efforts.
“At this point, our concern is with NFL recruits and GMs and owners and principals,” said Dorian’s mother, Melva Thompson-Robinson. “So it’s not a matter of trying to be bad or anything, but we have to focus on the bigger prize. He and I have been talking since early spring, ‘Dorian, do you want to be a pro? It’s time.’ is to walk like professionals, act like professionals, talk like professionals, throw like professionals, work like professionals.’ You know all these things.”
As part of that change, Thompson-Robinson underwent its own transformation. He welcomes criticism, embraces the ways it can help him improve, no matter how hard it is to hear.
All those losses he suffered? He studied the details like an autopsy, trying to understand what it would take to turn a disappointing season into one that would leave a legacy. He knows he can’t run back under pressure or let the ball slip out of his hand or dive into a tight light, all crazy tendencies from seasons past.
There will always be critics. Brandon Walker has something to say? Thompson-Robinson listens, ready to hang on every word in the hope that he might leave more disappointed.
“There’s always one or two games — whether it’s Arizona State, ‘SCs, Utahs, Oregons — that we let if we win those games, we’re in that big game, we’re in the playoffs. Rose Bowl , we’re in the Pac-12 championship,” Thompson-Robinson said. “So for me it’s true and it’s going to remind me every day that I’m surrounded by those three big games that we’ve had this year – Arizona State, ‘SC and Utah – that we have to finish, we have to win those games so we can play in the games we want.”
Soon, the Bruins will know if they can get there. There may be more games to come, perhaps one in Pasadena in early January.