Somewhat abruptly and unexpectedly, the dynamic of Vanderbilt’s quarterback competition has has undergone a dramatic shift.
Friday, Vandy issued a press release announcing that Patton Robinette has decided to retire from the game of football. A history of injuries, including a concussion last September, influenced the quarterback’s decision to some degree.
The school stated that Robinette spoke frequently with his parents, close acquaintances, Vanderbilt physicians and athletic trainers, and Commodore coaches before walking away from the sport in a fashion similar to the recent retirements of Chris Borland and Jack Miller.
“This has been a very difficult decision to make,” Robinette said in a statement sent out by the school. “This team means the world to me and I love playing football more than anything. It’s been tough coming to a decision that is right for my family and I, and protects my health and future.
“I’ve been very deliberate in coming to this decision. It’s difficult but I’m really excited to move forward to the next chapter of my life and really to see what the field of medicine has in store for me.”
Exiting the spring game this past Saturday, Robinette was widely viewed as the favorite to land the starting job. Less than a week ago, Robinette was stating that he was “going to have to go out this offseason and camp and compete to maintain my position at the top,” adding, “I am going to work hard and do [just] that.”
Six days later, Robinette will now be preparing for medical school instead of summer camp.
While concern over his health played a role in his decision, a significant one, so did the opportunity to embark on a medical career sooner rather than later.
“People have made a big deal of the concussion thing,” said Robinette during a press conference. “That’s certainly a factor, but more than that I’m looking at moving forward in my medical career and seeing where that takes me.
“Though football is an amazing game and I’ve loved playing the game at Vanderbilt, for myself and my future family, there are more important things than me trying to have one last stand. It was difficult to come to that decision.”
The past two seasons, Robinette started five of the 16 games in which he played. The pinnacle of Robinette’s playing career very well could’ve come in 2013, with the school writing “[t]o many Commodore fans, Robinette’s greatest contribution came on Nov. 23, 2013 when his 5-yard rushing touchdown proved the winning margin over Tennessee in Knoxville.”
That was the second-straight win for the Commodores over the in-state rival Vols, but just the third in the last 31 years.
With Robinette out of the picture, redshirt sophomore Johnny McCrary will likely enter camp as a slight favorite to win the starting job. Also in the mix will be sophomore Wade Freebeck and redshirt freshman Shawn Stankavage, with incoming freshman and 2015 four-star signee Kyle Shurmur joining the fray this summer.
McCrary and Freebeck were two of the four quarterbacks who started at least one game last year for the ‘Dores. The other player to start a game under center last year, Stephen Rivers, was granted a release from his Vandy scholarship this past January with the intention of transferring.