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ISU’s Robinson and Kirk carve out NFL roster spots

Written by on September 8, 2020

Photo courtesy Jacksonville Jaguars

NORMAL, Ill.- Even though there is no Redbird football, two former ISU athletes are heading into their rookie season as the NFL kicks off this week.

James Robinson made the Jacksonville Jaguars 53-man roster while Luther Kirk landed on the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys. 

Robinson was a running back for the Redbirds from 2016-2019, and put his name on the map with a huge 2019 senior season. The Rockford, IL native led the entire Missouri Valley Conference in rushing yards, rushing yards per game, and touchdowns. Robinson finished as a consensus first-team All-American.

James Robinson, photo courtesy ISU Athletics

Kirk played strong safety from 2015-16 and 2018-2019. The 6’2″ defensive back started all 15 games for the Redbirds in 2019, and led the team in tackles with 89. After recording two tackles and an interception at the 95th East-West shrine bowl, Kirk won defensive MVP for his strong performance.

Robinson may have the best opportunity to see the field, as the Jaguars have an open competition for snaps at the running back position. The team released former 4th overall pick Leonard Fournette last week and rookie Ryquell Armstead is on the COVID-19 reserve list. 

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone snap distribution will be “situation and matchup based,” with Robinson’s only current competition being rookie Devine Ozigbo and veteran Chris Thompson.

Kirk’s path to seeing the field is a bit murky. An injury would likely have to transpire in the Cowboy’s secondary for him to get promoted to the 53-man roster. However, it’s always possible another team sees Kirk as a potential piece of their main roster, and signs him off of the Cowboys practice squad.

Luther Kirk, photo courtesy to ISU Athletics

The NFL season kicks off this Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, with the Houston Texans visiting the Kansas City Chiefs. Robinson will get his first opportunity to play this Sunday at noon when the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Indianapolis Colts. The Dallas Cowboys will be visiting the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football at 7:20.