Today we profile a former safety who has since moved to linebacker.
Matt Robinson, Junior (RS), Outside Linebacker, #40
Collegiate Stats: 91 tackles (63 solo), 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception
High School Stats: 75 tackles, four sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery for a touchdown, one blocked punt, 39 catches for 792 yards and ten touchdowns
Recruiting Ratings: Three stars by ESPN (#151 "athlete"), three stars by Rivals, two stars by Scout (#60 TE)
High School: Atholton
Hometown: Columbia, Md.
High School Highlights:
How'd he get to College Park?
Robinson wasn't heavily recruited by big-ticket schools. He picked up offers from Fordham, UMass, James Madison, Old Dominion, and Stony Brook. His commitment to Ralph Friedgen's Terps came in Summer 2009, as Robinson chose to follow in the footsteps of his high school coach at Atholton, former Maryland offensive lineman Kyle Schmitt.
It's important to note that Robinson was a versatile two-way guy in high school, playing a lot of linebacker, receiver and tight end--but not much at safety, where he wound up upon getting to Maryland but won't be playing this season (more on that later).
Robinson's showed flashes of strong play over his time as a safety, but injuries significantly cut into his productivity. He played in all 13 games during his freshman year, 2010, and was one of the Terps' leading tacklers among non-starters and special teams players. His sophomore season was cut short by injury just three games in, though, effectively robbing him of a year of development and leading to a redshirt. He got on the field a bit more last season but still struggled with his health, so for the last two seasons, he hasn't had optimal time to grow as a player. Here's hoping 2013 is kinder to him in that regard.
Tied for most forced fumbles (2) among ACC freshmen in 2010
After two brutally injury-riddled seasons, Robinson plays in every game and serves as a veteran rock for a relatively inexperienced linebacking corps in his new position (covered below). He uses his physical gifts to be a mobile linebacker who can rush the passer, and he taps into his backfield experience to harass QBs in pass coverage, too. He gets a handful each of interceptions, forced fumbles and sacks to show for his efforts.
Randy Edsall and his staff have decided to convert Robinson back to linebacker, a spot he thrived in in high school. Friedgen moved Robinson to the defensive backfield when he got to campus, so his transition to linebacker is something of a positional homecoming. He's got the body for it: "When you look at him physically, he's more suited to be an outside linebacker," Edsall put it recently to the Terps' official site.
The positional change is a bit of a wild card for any player, but given Robinson's good size and speed and his history as a linebacker, he's well-suited for a move to outside backer. And the Terps certainly can use him there, as the departures of Kenny Tate and Darin Drakeford have left a void to fill on the edges. Robinson could be a unique hybrid, a speedy pass-rusher with a ball-hawking strain from his secondary days that makes him a challenge to gameplan against. He's slated to start at OLB, opposite Marcus Whitfield--for whatever spring depth charts are worth, anyway.
There is, of course, also the possibility that Robinson can't get over the injuries that have dogged him over the last two seasons. He has played in only eight games in the Edsall era, so his first challenge ought to be just staying on the field. He tweeted recently that he's been cleared for full lifting, and he's said his goal is to play in every game next season. If he does, it'll be a welcome sign for a unit hardly drowning in experience.
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