No member of Air Force’s class of 2017 had his story more closely chronicled than Jalen Robinette.
He was the banner member of the class from an NFL potential standpoint, finishing his record-setting career with invitations to the NFL Combine, the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl while whispers circulated that he could be drafted as high as the second round.
Then, the rules changed abruptly as the draft began. Robinette went undrafted and, after attending camps with the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, then was the topic of another surprise when he didn’t graduate with his class as the academy investigated an issue it said wasn’t related to football or anything of a criminal issue.
After about three months, Robinette graduated and was commissioned as an Air Force officer. He has been serving as a logistics officer at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
Q: So when did you get in town?
I got in Saturday (March 2), I just wanted to get acclimated and get some work in before the big day.
Q: Is that how you’re seeing, will it be a big day for you?
I think it’s just a big day for all of us who will be participating. Any chance we can all get together and get some work in is always kind of big. Especially for guys in my class, we don’t get to see each other every day like we used to being at school. It’s going to be fun.
Q: What’s your job in the Air Force in Las Vegas?
I’m a logistics officer. I’ve been kind of bouncing around the squadron doing different positions. Right now I’m working as a logistics flight commander, and from there just training when I can and staying in shape.
Q: So as a logistics flight commander, what would be some responsibilities in a day or week? Basically, what does that mean for those of us who don’t know that world?
I guess for the average person, what I do would entail sort of just supervising multiple departments – we call them shops – that have different functions such as supervising the vehicle maintenance shop, keeping up vehicles. The supply shop, keeping our soldiers and airmen supplied with everything from uniforms to weapon parts to parachutes, all that kind of stuff. Then there are other shops that have different functions to keep us well ready.
Q: Does it keep you interested?
It’s very interesting because there’s something new that happens every day and involves a lot of critical thinking every day. It definitely keeps you on your toes.
Q: Have you been handling your conditioning? Have you been working out at the base facilities or with a trainer?
Working out at the facility. Really just been working out myself, and then I got with a trainer over these last few months just to get ready for Pro Day.
Q: Have you timed yourself to see where you’re at speed-wise or strength leading into this? Where you stand now vs. two years ago?
Especially this year I feel great. It’s totally different when you’re not taking six classes and always up early and getting yelled at. I definitely feel really good about the work I’ve been putting in.
Q: What brought you back here for the Pro Day as opposed to doing it somewhere else?
I think kind of how the way everything played out, not coming back to my alma mater and doing Pro Day wouldn’t feel right. Coming back here always feels right and working with Coach Getty (Matt McGettigan), especially. It feels right; feels comfortable. Air Force gave me the opportunity to play football, so why not come back here and do the Pro Day?
Q: Is your clock any different because your graduation was delayed, or can you also get out in late May like the rest of your class?
My clock will be a little different. Honestly, I don’t have an exact answer on that. I know I’ll be a little different. I’m going through the same process as everyone else, it just might be delayed by a month or two. But I really don’t have an answer or a specific date on that.
Q: Do you feel good that if a team wanted you that you’d be able to go to training camp and all of that this summer?
Q: How much contact have you and your agent had with teams, or are you just waiting to see what happens after Monday?
Really, this process has been about patience and making sure I have the right answers and making sure all my ducks are in a row. Before I start attacking that subject I want to make sure I can communicate clearly with teams about the Air Force situation and make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Q: Going back to draft day, I’ve heard rumors that it was pretty clear where you might have gone. Have you heard those and did you know who was going to pick you and where?
Yeah, there was a lot of buzz and a lot of articles saying different places. Really, I was just focused on having my family together on that day and just whatever happens, happens. Any opportunity I get I’ll take it and just hit the ground running.
Q: How did you feel like you stacked up at minicamps with New England and Buffalo?
I felt pretty good. Especially when you first get out there you can see the speed of the game changing, there’s that shock. But I felt like I stood pretty well. Definitely having these two years has given me the chance to work on the little things I needed to work on and fine tune some stuff.
Q: Is there a renewed sense of hunger to be away from the game and now have a chance to get back in?
As a competitor you never really lose the hunger. So I wouldn’t say renewed, I just think it’s more and more excitement as you get closer to the day and then eventually getting to put on pads again. It will be even more excitement building up.
Q: I would understand a “no comment,” but do you want to take this opportunity to address any of the situation that delayed the graduation?
No comment, just grateful that I was able to graduate and be commissioned and be a part of the Air Force as a commissioned officer.
Q: In Las Vegas, have you crossed paths with former teammates or classmates?
Yeah, we’re kind of everywhere floating around the country.
Q: Do you have specific numbers you’re aiming for at Pro Day?
Right now I just want to go out there and look good, just run, jump and catch and be clean and look good out there. I don’t like to get too caught up in the numbers.
Q: Are there any other avenues you can pursue to get your name out there just because this situation is so unique and you guys have been away for two years?
I think there’s always opportunities to help ourselves and get our names out. I think timing is really important, too, just because we have a clock from the Air Force too as far as when we can get out of the active duty status and go to reserve or guard. I think there are a lot of opportunities out there and timing is very important as well.
Q: Where do you think life will take you in the fall? How drastically different could your life be?
I think it could be very different. I think God has a plan. Whether it’s football or not, I like to be realistic about it – confident, but also realistic. God has a plan and whatever happens, I’ll be in a great position and I’ll just take it day by day. I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself or too anxious.
Q: Is it NFL or bust or would you consider the AAF or XFL or Canada?
I think that’s a decision for down the road, kind of when it comes to it. Like I said, right now I’m just focused on being great today and then tomorrow I’ll focused on being great. Pro Day will come and I’ll see where that takes me.