Josh Gatlin learned from a young age to stay committed and be brave.
The message was imparted from Gatlin’s mom, who had to deal with the most horrifying of all situations for a parent when one of her sons was murdered.
Had fate not interfered, Josh Gatlin would be dead.
As it is, Gatlin carries a heavy heart, but he’s somehow managed to persevere and earn a spot with the Argos.
“You just have to keep pushing,’’ said Gatlin of the unpredictable life that is football and real life in general. “My mom always told me that if you’re going for something, claim it.”
Gatlin, like many in Argoland, were auditioning for jobs in Toronto’s secondary, a unit that has many new faces in the wake of different situations and circumstances.
The secondary was thrown yet another loop when Brent Vinson, the projected starter at halfback, broke an ankle on the first play from scrimmage in last week’s pre-season finale.
Gatlin has made an impression in this his first exposure to the CFL.
For much of his time in junior college or at North Dakota State, Gatlin played a system known as Tampa two, which the NFL’s Bucs popularized, a zone defence with over-the-top help.
As his collegiate career evolved, Gatlin played more man.
In Toronto, he’s been exposed to Chris Jones’ system, which demands defensive backs play press man.
“You can’t have the best corner in the NFL be the best corner in the CFL,’’ said Gatlin. “It takes time. I’m working at it hard and working on technique.
“With all this motion, I think playing corner in the CFL is much harder than the NFL.”
Linemen need to adjust to the one yard off the line of scrimmage.
For defensive backs foreign to the CFL, namely Americans, not playing a receiver on the line of scrimmage is an adjustment that requires time.
When playing bump and run coverage, imports aren’t used to receivers having a head start.
“I just love playing man to man defence,’’ said Gatlin. “It’s why I love coach Jones’ system.”
Gatlin’s cousin is sprinter Justin Gatlin, an Olympic gold medalist who recently beat Usain Bolt.
“We’ve never trained together, but we talk,’’ said Josh Gatlin.
CFL veteran defensive back Dee Webb, who once played for the Argos before his trade to Hamilton two years ago, is also Gatlin’s cousin.
ROBINSON REVIVES CAREER WITH ARGOS
Jamie Robinson is making up for lost time, at least from a football perspective.
For the past four years, Robinson was out of football, content to coach high school and work in the insurance field.
His world took a turn when the Argos began to show interest, putting in motion a series of events that would lead to workouts, tryouts and eventually an invitation to training camp.
“And here I am now,’’ said Robinson, who made the grade with the Argos.
Robinson first spoke with his wife, an accomplished soccer player, before he decided to give football another look.
When he finished his senior year at Florida State in 2009, Robinson felt his career was over.
As a freshman, Robinson played on the same Seminoles team that featured Pat Watkins, a player Argos defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones would groom into an all-star last season.
“Pat, at the time, was a senior,’’ Robinson said. “We played one year together and he was someone I looked up to. He was a leader on that defence.”
Robinson isn’t as tall as the towering Watkins, but he’s long, athletic and tall enough to play in Jones’ scheme.
Watkins rejoined the Argos last week following a long absence to deal with a family issue.