Spinal Condition Ends Guard Robinson's Career

Penn State redshirt junior offensive lineman Elijah Robinson had the inside track on a starting position during spring practice this year. Now his career is over. Yet strange as it sounds, the native of Camden, N.J., is fortunate.

Before the April 21 Blue-White Game, Nittany Lion coach Joe Paterno said Robinson would not play due to a neck injury. Team sources say the injury happened just over a week earlier, shortly before Penn State's Coaches Clinic.

While Robinson was being treated for that unspecified injury, team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli found the athlete had a condition called “tight spinal canal,” according to PSU spokesman Jeff Nelson.

Nelson said he was told Robinson likely had the problem his whole life but it went undetected until Sebastianelli conducted tests on the area.

Sebastianelli told Robinson any kind of impact to the head could lead to a pinching of the spinal cord, leading to paralysis. At that point, according to Nelson, all agreed it was best for the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder to give up football.

So Robinson walked away from the sport. Which was obviously much better than the alternative.

"This is a big loss for the team," PSU coach Joe Paterno said. "Elijah did very well in our winter conditioning and had been working hard to improve. He had an opportunity to be a big contributor this season. I'm disappointed for him in regard to his football career, but you can't take any chances."

In his first three seasons at Penn State — including a redshirt in 2005 — Robinson shuttled between the defensive and offensive lines. He began the 2006 season on defense but moved to offense after a few weeks, eventually rising to second team on the depth chart at right guard.

When spring practice began this year, Robinson was running first team at left guard.

A crime, law and justice major at Penn State, Robinson, 21, can graduate as early as August, Nelson said.

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