NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Patton Robinette has a big spring in front of him on the field as he tries to solidify himself as Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback.
Last season, Robinette came up big in the clutch in relief for the Commodores after stepping in for the injured Austyn Carta-Samuels down the stretch.
Football, though, won’t be the only thing on Robinette’s agenda this spring. A pre-med student, he’s traveling to France in May to study abroad. It’s all part of a comparative health systems class he’s taking during the Maymester at Vanderbilt. It’s also his final pre-med class.
Robinette, who will be a third-year sophomore next season, is scheduled to graduate next year.
“Right now, I’m shadowing a neurologist at the hospital, Dr. Tom Davis,” Robinette said. “I still have three years of eligibility left [in football], so I can’t really start med school. But since I’ll be graduating next year, I think I’ll apply to the business school here in public health and get a master’s degree before the NFL or med school comes into the picture.”
Ah, the life of your typical SEC quarterback.
Robinette is as competitive as they come on the football field, but that same fire also burns in the classroom. He scored a 36 on his ACT while in high school and carries a 3.54 GPA at Vanderbilt.
The application process for the comparative health systems class was intensely competitive, so Robinette knows how fortunate he is to be a part of that select group.
“We spend four or five days here on campus at Vanderbilt, looking at Vanderbilt and the type of health systems we have here in the United States,” Robinette explained. “And then we fly over to Paris for a week and do the same thing there with their hospitals and health services, and then we’re taking two weeks [near] Marseilles.”
Before touring the French countryside, Robinette is eager to dive into the new playbook at Vanderbilt with first-year offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell this spring and take another step forward as a quarterback. Robinette’s chief focus is becoming a more consistent passer.
He played in 10 games last season but completed just 52.3 percent of his passes. He’ll be pushed by redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary in 2014.
“It starts with having better footwork and making sure you’re on the same page with your receivers,” said Robinette, who will be losing record-setting receiver Jordan Matthews to the NFL.
The 6-foot-4, 212-pound Robinette is no stranger to pressure situations. He came off the bench to finish the come-from-behind win over Georgia last season, and then in his first start, he guided Vanderbilt to its first victory at Florida since the 1940s.
His most memorable play of the season came just up the road from where he played high school football for powerhouse Maryville (Tenn.) High under George Quarles. Robinette scored the winning touchdown against Tennessee in the final seconds after perfectly executing a fake jump-pass.
His 5-yard touchdown run around the right side sent a hush over Neyland Stadium and sent the Commodores to their second consecutive victory over the Vols, the first time that’s happened since Vanderbilt won six straight from 1920-26.
As you might imagine, Robinette heard it all from everybody back home.
“That was a lot of fun, growing up so close, a 15-minute drive from the campus,” said Robinette, who wasn't recruited by Derek Dooley's staff at Tennessee and whose grandfather, Pat, played basketball for the Vols. “All my friends asked me why I had to do it, why I didn’t trip and fall. Then, I had a lot of people on Twitter telling me I was traitor to East Tennessee.
“I had a lot of positive feedback, too, from people in Blount County and around Knoxville. They’d tell me if somebody had to do it, that they were glad it was me.”