Averee Robinson shows his love and admiration for his late brother, Adrian, every time he puts on his Temple football uniform. A junior defensive lineman, Robinson has switched from No. 73 to 43, which was the number Adrian Robinson wore with the Owls before he played in the NFL.
In May, the Robinson family, who hail from Harrisburg, were struck by tragedy when Adrian Robinson died at age 25 in what was ruled a suicide.
Adrian Robinson played 50 games for Temple and was named Mid-American Conference defensive player of the year as a sophomore linebacker in 2009. He appeared in 22 NFL games in two seasons, spending time with the Steelers, Eagles, Buccaneers, Broncos, Chargers, and Redskins.
"I always looked up to my brother as a player and a big brother," Robinson said Monday after practice, the first in full pads for the Owls.
When Temple coach Matt Rhule asked if he would like to wear his brother's number, Robinson couldn't say yes fast enough.
"I wanted to do it but I didn't have the courage to ask Coach Rhule because linemen don't usually wear in the 40s," he said. "But when he came to me with the proposition, I said yes because I always looked up to my brother so much."
As for coping with the tragedy, Robinson said he and his family are doing their best to move forward.
"We will never forget my brother because no matter what happened with his untimely death, he is always a star in our family and we will always remember him," Robinson said. "He was pretty much the star of our family and we will love him forever."
Robinson said the preparation for the season with his teammates has helped him a great deal.
"Sometimes you sit and think of all the things that happened and football takes your mind off it," he said. "Football is a good coping mechanism and I have 100 brothers out here that are with me and helping me through the process."
Temple's players showed their unity by attending his brother's funeral. Since then they have done their best to comfort their teammate.
"Averee is such a good kid and when it happened it was our job to have his back and just be there for him," cornerback Tavon Young said.
Added linebacker Tyler Matakevich: "It is such a tragedy and we really have rallied around him and we knew he needed us more than anything."
So Robinson will honor his brother and it very well could be from the starting lineup. He appeared in all 12 games last season for the 6-6 Owls, making one start.
His best game was an opening 37-7 win at Vanderbilt when Robinson recovered two fumbles and returned one for a 55-yard touchdown.
His brother also scored a defensive touchdown at Temple.
"That is something we share, and when I saw my brother [after the Vanderbilt game], we were hugging each other and it was a great experience," Robinson said.
Turning his thoughts toward this season, Robinson added, "I am looking to score this year."
Whatever is accomplished this season, it will be in memory of his brother, whose number Robinson now wears with pride.