Track and field always has had a way of finding former Chicago Bears wide receiver Marcus Robinson.
At Peach County High School in Fort Valley, Georgia, two sprinters were injured, so Robinson’s coach asked him to run the 100 meters. To everyone’s astonishment, Robinson cranked out a hand-timed 10.29 seconds.
As a college junior at South Carolina, Robinson was urged by football teammate Corey Bridges to run track. Robinson didn’t think he was fast enough, but eventually he relented. He took second in the 100 and 200 at the Southeastern Conference Championships.
As his 10-year NFL career was winding down, Robinson sometimes trained on Jacobs High School’s track, where he met a couple who asked to run with him. He agreed, and the woman eventually lost 20 pounds, while her husband dropped 12. They suggested he train people for a living, which he now has done for the past eight years.
And this spring, the former Bears receiver will take over as Marian Central’s boys track coach, Hurricanes athletic director Curtis Price announced Tuesday.
Robinson set the Bears’ record for receiving yards (1,400) in 1999. It has since been broken by Brandon Marshall (1,508 in 2012) and Alshon Jeffery (1,421 in 2013), but Robinson still sits 23rd on the Bears’ career receiving list with 187 receptions. He also holds the Baltimore Ravens’ record with four touchdowns in a game.
“I really enjoy seeing kids put forth the effort and see them changing,” Robinson said. “You see them start to grow and change. When you get to see kids and train them and give them that competition, and make them see the competition and want to work hard, that’s something I really enjoy.”
Robinson has run Bigtime Sports with Marcus, which is located in the LifeZone 360 building on Main Street in West Dundee, for eight years. He trains athletes for football, basketball, lacrosse and track and field, designing sport-specific workouts for them.
Robinson’s wife, Keyomi, owns a hair salon in West Dundee. Their daugher, Mikayla, is a 6-foot-2 freshman volleyball player at South Carolina, and their son, Marcus Jr., is 13, with hopes of some day playing football.
Robinson was an assistant track coach at Marian for the past two seasons, working with boys and girls sprinters. Recruiting athletes is Robinson’s biggest concern for the boys team.
“The boys are lacking athletes right now,” Robinson said. “It’s hard to get track athletes out at Marian. I want to just try to change that and get more athletes out. We can have a really good year with the guys we have, but we have some guys who can come out and help the program.”
Robinson played six seasons with the Bears, one with the Ravens and his final three with the Minnesota Vikings. He has stayed in contact with former Vikings receivers Nate Burleson and Randy Moss, both who now work in television. He mentioned Olin Kreutz, James Williams, Ahmad Merritt and Johnny Knox as former Bears teammates he frequently contacts.
“As a competitor, you know you could go back and do a lot of things better than you did,” Robinson said. “I enjoyed the 10 years, I had fun with it, met a great group of guys and got to do a lot of things people dream of.”