In a few hours, former Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson will find out where he'll be spending at least the next four years of his life when he is selected – almost assuredly in the top five – in the 2014 NFL draft.
While there are no guarantees, the 6-foot-5, 332-pounder is expected to be the first player at his position to come off the board. And while Texas A&M's Jake Matthews is considered by some to be more "polished" at this point in his career, Robinson's freakish size and athleticism (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.92 seconds) has garnered him praise as one of the most gifted incoming offensive tackles in the past 20 years, drawing frequent comparisons to future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace along the way.
After completing predraft visits with a number of teams, including the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, who hold the first and second picks in the draft, Robinson got a good feel for a few of the cities he may soon call home. He talked to Yahoo Sports about each team's organizational culture and local cuisine, where he might be selected, the considerable hurdles he had to clear to make it to this point in his life, his reaction to Auburn's miracle play against Alabama and more.
On how the Texans fed him during his visit
They fed me well [laughter]. We went to Del Frisco's, a steakhouse right next to the hotel I stayed at and it was really good. I went with [Texans offensive line] coach [Paul] Dunn.
Ok, level with us, which city had the best food?
I ate real well in Houston and I think Del Frisco's was the best restaurant I ate at, but the food at the facility in St. Louis and Atlanta was really good too. I definitely look forward to being in an NFL program and eating a lot healthier.
On if the Texans are considering selecting him first overall
They said they really like me and I got a good feel for [the organization]. I met a lot of good people in Houston. It was just a great feeling to have the opportunity to visit with the team that's picking first, but I honestly don't know if they're going to take me there. They told me to not complicate things and just let whatever happens, happen, so that's what I'm doing.
When did you hit your growth spurt and how much did you grow?
After I left Louisiana I was fairly big, but I was skinny. I was running track [laughter]. But then I moved to Houston for a few years [after his family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina], came back, and everybody was like, "Dang man, what's wrong with you? How did you get so big?" I think I was around 13 or 14 then. And ever since middle school I've always been big. From eighth grade to ninth grade I really started to grow a lot though. And from there, everyone was like, "You're gonna end up the same size as your dad" until I outgrew him. He was like 6-5 [laughter]." So I ended up the biggest in the family.
You've come a long way [Katrina, etc.] Have you taken a step back to appreciate just how far you've come? How far your family has come?
Yeah, a lot of people have been reaching out to congratulate me but it almost doesn't feel real because nobody expected me to be in this position.
With Katrina, that's something you have to live with for the rest of your life and it really humbled me and opened my eyes. I realized once that happened, we didn't really have much in the first place, but to lose the little bit we did have was hard. I always wanted more out of life, but that helped me strive harder to try to put myself in a position to take care of myself and my family.
On being able to take care of his family once he makes it into the league.
It's a blessing. And it's something no one can take away from me once I accomplish what I plan on accomplishing. It's calming to know that my family will finally be in a position to be happy and see a lot of things they haven't seen before. And it just feels good when I think about all my hard work starting to pay off.
On his mother's role in his life
It was such a humbling experience to see how hard she worked [at a nursing home] when I was coming up and watching how she handled my brothers making mistakes. She always tried her best to stay strong and hide it from us, but I've seen her cry several times and it just bothered me as a young boy. All I wanted to do was make her happy.
She always stressed to me that I needed to make wise decisions and work hard for everything I wanted. So it was just something that was on my heart and I just never wanted to let her down.
On whether she's been able to tell him how proud she is of him
I just want to see the smile on her face when I get drafted and the tears of joy. That'll be enough for me.
I don't want her to tell me anything, I just want to see her expression because that'll show me how proud she is of me. And it's crazy because before my dad passed [in April of 2012], he had this vision of me going to the NFL, and [he and my mom] used to talk about it. I wish he was here to share it also, but before he passed he just told me to be the best I can be at whatever it was I was doing, so every day I strive to be the best and I know my best will make them happy.
On where he was standing on the field for the miracle play against Alabama
I was actually on the sideline talking to a few of the o-linemen and we were all talking about getting ready for overtime, like, "We can beat 'em, we can beat 'em," and my back was turned to the Jumbotron. When I turned around and looked up, I saw Chris Davis running down the sideline. It was the most unreal feeling ever. I never thought that would happen.
After it was over I just ran on the field, but after a while I realized I was running the wrong way [laughter]. Everyone else [on the team] was running toward the locker room while I was running toward the 50-yard line. I ended up in the middle with all the fans and it took me about an hour and a half to get back to the locker room.
I had to have taken at least 100 pictures with fans that night. It was by far the most special night of my Auburn career besides going to the national championship.
On working with Cowboys Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tyron Smith
The first time I worked out with Tyron was in our agent [Eric Metz's] backyard. We went over hand drills for a while and he was showing me how to stay better balanced and how to use my hands. He really opened my eyes to the little things that are so important in pass [protection]. He showed me a lot before the combine that really helped. And then we worked out with Scott Peters in Arizona [doing MMA training]. He took me to a gym and worked with me on keeping my elbows in and my arms loaded to help with my striking. It was all really helpful and I look forward to continuing [that training] at the next level.
Last-minute words for the last teams that might select him
I would tell them that the guy I showed them is the guy they're going to get. From the day I step onto any club's premises I'm going to give them my best effort and try my best to impact the program. They can expect nothing less.