Charger football hall-of-famer Archie Robinson ’72 died on Oct. 28. He was 71 years old.
Robinson was a standout athlete during his time at Hillsdale playing varsity football, basketball, and baseball. He amassed an impressive record during his four years as a defensive back for the Chargers.
On the gridiron, Robinson finished his college career with a school-record of 20 interceptions, a then-season record of seven interceptions, and 116 career tackles. He also led his team to the NAIA national playoffs in 1969. In 1971, Robinson was named an NAIA First Team All-American and was the first Charger to ever make the Kodak Little All-American Team.
Robinson was known across the country for his speed and power during his career as a Charger. Weighing in at 215 pounds, he ran a 4.6‑second 40-yard dash, which was extremely quick for his weight class. He initially played linebacker but switched to DB when coaches believed the position would be a better fit for him, seeing as he could outrun most safeties and cornerbacks.
Michael Mills ’71, a former teammate, friend, and safety for the Chargers said that Robinson carried himself differently than other players.
“He wanted to be twice as good as anybody else, and he could do so,” Mills said. “His weight and speed were unmatched.”
Robinson was a natural-born leader and served as captain of the football, baseball, and basketball teams during his time as a Charger.
“Muddy took a bunch of boys and made them into men,” Mills said. “But Archie was something else. We were respected when we stepped onto the field with Archie.”
Head football coach Keith Otterbein, who had been acquainted with Robinson but never played at the same time, said he had only the highest respect for him.
“We’re saddened by the loss, and we were impacted greatly by his years as a coach and a player,” Otterbein said. “That’s what you do as a coach; you impact people and create a ripple effect of impacting people down the road. His impact lasted his whole life, and it’ll continue even further.”
After graduating from Hillsdale in 1972, Robinson declared for the NFL draft. He was drafted in the 13th round by the Miami Dolphins. Robinson was drafted along with teammate Chester Marcol, a kicker who was later named to the Packers Hall of Fame in 1987.
While scouts had high hopes after seeing his physicality, size, and speed, a career in the NFL was not right for Robinson. He left before playing in his first season.
Robinson later found his calling in coaching, accepting his first head coach position at Saginaw Valley State University in 1973. Prior to that, he worked as an assistant football coach under his former college coach, Frank “Muddy” Waters at SVSU. He was later named the first women’s basketball coach for Saginaw Valley, winning the 1976 GLIAC Championship and compiling an overall record of 90 – 28.
Robinson eventually left SVSU and began coaching football, basketball, and baseball at high schools all around Michigan. His most successful position was at Hamady High School near Flint, Michigan.
During his time as a basketball coach at Hamady, Robinson compiled a record of 332 – 59.
Robinson was an active member of his church, the First Baptist Church of Bridgeport, in Saginaw, Michigan. He taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, and served as an usher. He is survived by his wife, Sharon Robinson, and his daughter, Ruth Ann Robinson.