Summer 2024

RB Bijan Robinson drafted by Atlanta Falcons at No. 8: 'I give glory to God'

Bijan Robinson told reporters ahead of Thursday’s NFL draft that it didn’t matter to him where he was selected, that where he ended up would be the right team and where God wanted him to be.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

That team is the Atlanta Falcons, who selected him No. 8 overall. The pick made him the first running back drafted in the top 10 since Saquon Barkley was selected second overall in 2018.

“First of all, I just want to say I give glory to God for blessing me to be here with everybody,” Robinson told ESPN’s Suzy Kolber shortly after being selected.

Among the many interviews Robinson did in the aftermath of his selection, he continued to express his faith in God.

“It’s obviously such a blessing just to know that God brought me to be here, in Atlanta, and use my skills, use my talents [for] the whole team, the city,” he told Atlanta’s 11Alive News. “I really can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.”

Prior to Thursday’s first round, just nine running backs had been selected in the top 20 picks of the draft since 2010. Though teams have shied away from drafting running backs as high in recent years, Robinson’s production at the University of Texas was hard to pass up, and the Falcons grabbed what they hope is their running back of the future.

He rushed for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2022 en route to being named a unanimous All-American selection, and he was also named the winner of the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. He was an All-Big 12 first-team selection in 2021 and 2022.

When Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot called Robinson to give him the news, he told the 21-year-old, “It’s not just the player you are, it’s the person you are. Everything you bring, we’re about what you’re about. And I’m telling you, man, you’re going to be a part of something special.”

To which Robinson responded, “I appreciate you, man. God is good.”

Robinson’s stellar junior season came after an offseason where some thought he didn’t need to prove anything else at the college level, and some even advised him to sit out and preserve his health. But he wanted to keep his commitment to his teammates and the Texas program.

“I’m a really loyal guy,” Robinson told 247 Sports while recovering from an elbow injury at the end of his sophomore season. “When I say I’m gonna do something, you know I’m gonna stick to it. I know people might see it differently or people might disagree. But if I’m part of a team or sticking to something I believe that God put me in, I’m not gonna change it. That’s just who I am, and that’s what I believe is the right thing to do.”

As the spotlight around him got bigger and brighter, Robinson made sure he was still reflecting his faith in God, both in media interviews and on social media. His Twitter bio says, “God is the way,” and his banner image features six words: “Faith. Believe. Trust. Let God Work!” His Instagram bio reads, “Trust in the Lord” and “Let’s make God famous!”

At Big 12 media days last summer, Robinson talked about the impact faith was having within the Texas program and his relationship with running backs coach Tashard Choice. The culture of faith played a big role in him wanting to return.

“None of us would be here if God wasn’t a part of our life,” Robinson said. “He blessed us to do something. He blessed you to do what you’re doing, blessed me to do what I’m doing. So, when He’s the center and the focal piece of a team, then that’s when you start to see where you want to go and how you want to do it.”

Once Robinson arrives in Atlanta for training camp, he’ll compete with veteran Cordarrelle Patterson and second-year running back Tyler Allgeier for the starting spot. In the meantime, he said he wants Falcons fans to know the kind of player and person they’re getting.

“They’re getting such a positive guy who obviously loves football but wants to help the city grow even more than it already is,” he told ESPN after being selected. “For me, my heart is out there for everybody and I’m going to bring my faith, my positivity, my happiness and smile to every fan, every teenager, every adult, everybody out there, so I hope they accept me for me. It’s going to be a great time.”

— Bryce Young goes No. 1 overall to Panthers, wants to ‘represent God through football’
C.J. Stroud drafted 2nd overall by Houston Texans: ‘I have the armor of God on me’
— With hype building, Texas star RB Bijan Robinson playing for God’s glory
— Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker awaits NFL draft, aims to ‘spread the Word of Jesus’
— Bills safety Damar Hamlin announces plan to return to NFL: ‘I’m walking by faith’