April 8, 2010

Robinson doing his part to impress

Very quietly, the development of Christian Robinson continues to be one of the biggest stories of Georgia's spring camp.

At 220 pounds, Robinson admits he might not be the most physically imposing linebacker playing for the Bulldogs.

But evidenced by the fact he's now running with Akeem Dent as Georgia's two starters at inside linebacker following the move of Darryl Gamble to Sam, he's obviously doing something wrong.

So what's his secret?

Position coach Warren Belin says it's actually quite simple.

"He works his tail off. He's a smart young man who understands the game and understands what we're asking him to do," Belin said. "That being said, there's a lot on his plate as a student athlete so we've got to go back and look and see if that's too much or is that right where we need to be with him because we're cross-training him, along with a couple of other guys, because of their athletic ability."

With Gamble's move, Dent slid over to Mike with Robinson assuming the position at Moe, although as Belin pointed out, both players are interchangeable and can play both spots.

But don't get the wrong idea.

Even if Gamble were still in his former spot Belin stressed that Robinson would definitely still have seen major PT.

"Christian is improving each and every day. I've been very pleased with his progress. He's playing multiple positions for us at the inside linebacker positions," Belin said. "He's a young man who works very hard at the fundamentals and trying to do every single thing the right way. As he continues to grow in our defensive package, he's going to make a great contribution."

One of the more congenial players on the Bulldog team, Robinson couldn't help but crack a good-natured smile when asked about his size.

At 220 pounds, many have wondered if the graduate of Greater Atlanta Christian might be a little too light in the britches to be an every-down contributor in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme.

Granted, Grantham would like to see Robinson add about five pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame. But according to Robinson, neither he nor his coaches see his size as much of a deal at all.

"As long as everybody's in the gap and make the tackle, that's all anybody cares about," he said. "Rennie (Curran) had the height thing and he always made plays. Maybe for me it will be the weight."

Robinson is confident he'll add the extra weight, but that hasn't been his most pressing concern: Learning the new defense has.

Of course, he's not alone there.

"It's been really interesting learning a whole new system. Since everybody is on the same page you kind of have to remind yourself that everybody else is learning it at the same thing you are and you've got the same amount of time to learn it," he said. "We're putting in a lot, but at the same time we're learning and we're getting more confident. I can tell the younger guys who maybe didn't get to play last season or got redshirted that they feel just as confident as some of the older guys and that helps our defense, encourage each other and play at full speed."

Belin said there's another reason Robinson is well-suited for the role he now plays - his comfort level when it comes to calling the defensive plays.

It's a role with which he feels quite as ease.

"I like being the guy up front making the calls. I might not be the most physically dominating person but at the same time I feel like I get respect in front of the huddle making the calls," he said. "It's just mental. When we're in the meeting rooms, you've got to study and before the scrimmages on Saturday the coaches ask us to look at our playbooks and be prepared. If you're not prepared, it shows up so you've got to know your facts and know what everyone else is doing, especially at the inside linebacker spot because even if you're not making the calls you've got to get everybody else lined up."

Belin could not agree more.

"He's absolutely the type of guy you want to step in the huddle and call the defense," Belin said. "That's what all linebackers should be, especially the ones who want to be the best."

Belin recalled one of his former pupils at Vanderbilt, who unlike Robinson, didn't initially take to being the center of attention when it came to making defensive calls.

Today, former Commodore star Hunter Hillenmeyer is a starting linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

"Some guys aren't comfortable. I remember having the opportunity to coach Hunter. When Hunter got there he had never gotten out front calling plays. We recognized that early when we got there as a staff that he needed to step up front," Belin said. "Now, when you go back and look at the years he's been at Chicago and having to replace (Brian) Urlacher, a starter at Sam. He is now very comfortable. But his experience was gained after we put him out front, so I think it helps those guys who can call plays understand defenses a lot better because they're the quarterback of the team. We're excited about Christian and where he can go."

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