Perseverance pays off for BYU cornerback Robbie Buckner

Robbie Buckner isn’t your typical Brigham Young Cougars football player. He is the only BYU player on the current roster from Arkansas. He is also a cancer survivor.

Through perseverance, Bucker was able to win his fight against cancer. He then resumed another fight he started years before.

Buckner arrived at BYU way back in 2006 from Ashdown, Arkansas. He was just the third player in school history from Arkansas. Robert Walters (1946) and Don Griffin (1966, 68-70) were the others. Just like everybody else, Buckner came to the Y planning to start many games and make a lot of big plays.

In Buckner’s case, it would have to wait awhile. He redshirted the 2006 season and then left for two years on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Mozambique.

When Buckner returned in 2009, it looked like he was going to fulfill those dreams of playing time and play making. He played in six games as a redshirt freshman, including his first career start against Utah State. He made four tackles that night, and the future looked favorable.

Buckner continued to work hard in 2010 and saw action in six more games. The 2011 season was when his break was supposed to come. BYU would be replacing both cornerbacks, and Buckner had plans to be one of the new starting corners.

The 2011 season, however, didn’t go as planned. Buckner didn’t start a single game and played in just six games, again.

BYU was looking to replace a cornerback again this past offseason. After spring practices, it was pretty clear that the new starter would be Jordan Johnson. A few weeks later, Buckner learned he had testicular cancer.

When fall camp opened, Buckner wasn’t present. No one would have blamed Buckner if he never showed up again. With his only start three years in the past, and no guarantees for any playing time as a senior, it seemed logical that Buckner would move on with the rest of life. Cancer, after all, has a way of changing people’s perspective and priorities.     

The cancer treatments went well, and Buckner was able to rejoin the team in time for the season opener August 30. It was a nice feel-good story, if nothing else. Buckner still wasn’t expected to see the field much. In fact, during the first nine games of his senior season, Buckner played in less than half (4).

In an interesting turn of events, Buckner found himself starting in BYU’s final home game of the season last Saturday against Idaho. It was the final time he would suit up for a game and play in front of the home crowd at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Buckner was making his first start since his redshirt freshman season. Anybody want to guess what happened? That’s right, Buckner made his first career interception.

It was an interception to remember, too. The pass was originally tipped by the intended receiver and another BYU defender. Buckner wasn’t too far away, but he wasn’t close enough to catch it cleanly. He reached out for the ball and tipped it, too. Before the ball hit the ground, Buckner was able to stop his momentum, twist his body, and dive to pick off the pass.

Video of Buckner's interception can be seen here

Buckner had a pass break up and a tackle to go along with his circus-catch interception.

Perseverance had paid off, again.

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  1. Robbie and my younger son played football together at Ashdown High School. Robbie has always been an excellent athlete and a remarkable young man. He has always demonstrated integrity, determination and dedication in all his endeavors. I am glad that his perseverance is paying off!


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