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Robertson ’20 on football, faith, and freshman year

MIT Football played two games in the month of November. They earned a win against Curry College 26-21, and took a tough double-overtime 36-35 loss to Nichols College. The Engineers rode on an offensive outburst from running back John Robertson ’20 who ran for a total of 328 yards with 6 touchdowns in his two November games. He closed out his stellar rookie season by recording four consecutive games in which he rushed for at least 100 yards. He ended the season with a total of 920 yards and 11 touchdowns, earned the NEFC Offensive Rookie of the Week honors twice, NEFC Offensive Player of the Week honors once, and was one of the seven Engineers to make an appearance on an NEFC All-Conference Team as MIT Football finished the season with a 3-7 overall record.


We spoke with November The Tech Player of the Month, Robertson, a Course 2 prospective, about his success as a rookie and what being an Engineer means to him.


The Tech: Congratulations on your immense success as a rookie! We know that balancing your life between varsity sports and an MIT academic life can be challenging, especially as a freshman. What is something you have learned through the process that you plan to take out of your time at MIT?

Robertson: Making work fun – one of the strangest yet coolest things I have seen thus far at MIT is how the majority of the student body handles the academic demands of the Institute. Namely, have fun doing your work. Get together with friends and have a good time while still being productive. Tackling my first semester with that attitude has made it fly by.

The Tech: What makes MIT a special team to play on? Is there anything besides just “playing the game” that you can attribute your season success to?

Robertson: The brotherhood is what makes MIT football special. All of the freezing practices, late night workouts, balancing the academic workload – we're all in it together. Playing not for yourself but for the brother beside you – that's when we play our best, and that's when it becomes more than a game. As a result, a bond is formed that exists beyond the field. That bond makes MIT football truly special.

Fun fact: I didn't actually want to come to MIT at first. I was really not a fan of the city, cold, and most importantly leaving my friends and family in Nashville, but the Lord had other plans. He opened the door and told me to come, so here I am. Been blessed with the greatest community here at MIT ever since. I attribute all my football success to Him.

The Tech: Tell us something about the team we probably don’t know or maybe that even you didn't imagine when coming in as a freshman as a rookie. Has anything shocked you about college football?

Robertson: I could've never imagine how hard the players work. It doesn't show in the statistics at the end of the game, but the amount of responsibility and obligation the players juggle is crazy. And what’s more – nobody complains. Players will go to class all day, work on problem sets up until practice, go run around and hit someone for two hours, then come back and take a two hour physics test like it's nothing. Throughout the season I couldn't help but constantly admire the seniors on the team. I'm juggling a lot and all I have to do is pass. They have every obligation of which you can think vying for their time, yet they always come in smiling, ready to get to work on the field and have a good time in the process.

The Tech: Along with football, you were also a two-time second team all-district center fielder in baseball for your high school. Why football?

Robertson: I do miss baseball quite a bit, but I think football just has that something about it. It's a constant adrenaline rush every time you step inside the lines. You give up your body for the name on the front of the jersey. For your teammates. There's not a better feeling in the world than being dead tired after a win with your brothers, and for me, that feeling is a lot harder to come by in baseball.

The Tech: Do you have an inspiration? Is there someone you look up to – in your every day life, in football, or in academics?

Robertson: I really look up to Hugh Freeze, head football coach for the Ole Miss Rebels. How he carries himself, coaches the game, and most importantly lives out his faith in Jesus are all characteristics I strive to imitate.

Editorial note: This interview was edited for clarity.