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April 1, 2011

Robinson has better style, substance


Trevor Robinson looked at the pictures hanging inside Notre Dame’s offensive line meeting room and noticed a helmet commonality among past All-Americans. Assuming those linemen wore helmets at all, they carried a crossbar, that retro single bar extending between the eyes on the facemask.

If Robinson’s picture ever goes up in the Guglielmino Center, he’ll have that same style.

“I love watching guys, like the Alan Faneca’s, the old guys that all have it,” Robinson said. “They have (pictures) all the way back from before there were helmets, but as soon as there were helmets every guy that’s up there has one of those goofy looking helmets with a crossbar, so we were joking about getting one and I went in and actually got it.”

Yet that change in style to Robinson’s game won’t match his upgrades on substance.

Brian Kelly had called out Robinson’s physical conditioning for being substandard to play guard in his spread offense. Offensive line coach Ed Warinner spoke earlier this week about Robinson dropping 15 pounds of fat and adding 15 pounds of muscle this off-season, correcting flaws in the guard’s strength numbers.

“He just had to make a commitment in the weight room to really develop himself, specifically his lower body strength,” Warinner said. “He weighs about the same, but he’s a whole different animal.

“That’s going to make him a better player, last longer in games and be more physical.”

Robinson said he’s actually 20-to-25 pounds heavier than last season when he felt well-conditioned to survive Kelly’s warp speed practices but not strong enough to root out defensive tackles on short yardage. The change in body type has hurt Robinson’s ability to breeze through practice periods, but it’s empowered him in the trenches.

The fact Robinson is completely healthy, perhaps for the first time in his college career, has provided a major assist in the weight room. The former four-star recruit suffered a serious shoulder injury as a freshman that required surgery. An ankle injury has also nagged Robinson in past seasons, robbing him of time in the weight room to develop his lower body.

“Everything right now feels as close to 100 percent as it’s going to be,” Robinson said. “When you work the whole year for 12-to-13 Saturdays, it’s really hard to say, ‘my ankle hurts, I’m going to sit this one out.’ There’s definitely give and take.”

Robinson hasn’t maxed out in the squat rack, but the company he’s kept there this off-season proves his gains. The rising senior said he’s now lifting with Braxston Cave and Ethan Johnson in the squats, often working two- or three-rep sets as high as 475 pounds. Cave and Johnson rank among Notre Dame’s strongest players in the squat rack.

“I feel like I caught up and made up the ground that I needed to,” Robinson said. “Just between diet, kind of focusing on eating the right things and drinking a lot of water, more protein and things like that and combine with the weight room stuff.”

For Robinson, his game finally feels like it’s taking a major step forward, even if his helmet looks like it’s gone back in time.


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