September 20, 2012

Robinson making adjustment

Sean Robinson's biggest adjustment linebacker probably has come in his approach to the new position, and is still trying to get where he needs to be.

The former quarterback - he played there all of high school, getting only a few snaps at safety his first two years - is used to trying to stay cool and calm under pressure. Then, he looks at his roommate, former Boilermaker linebacker and special teamer Chris Carlino, who very likely eats rocks for breakfast, and wonders how he can become more menacing.

"I really couldn't even tell you what the standard is," said Robinson, who is backing up Will Lucas at weakside linebacker. "You look at older people like Ryan Kerrigan, Joe Holland and Chris Carlino, I just remember those guys being such intense people.

"I live with Chris now, and (see) his mindset in everything he does. On special teams last year, he was just an animal, and I'm not even close to that. I think that takes some time."

Robinson's ascent from fourth-string quarterback to backup 'backer, however, hasn't taken as long as some might have expected. The 6-foot-3, now 243-pounder - that's up 20 pounds from the beginning of the spring - is playing significantly, probably about 12-20 snaps per game.

Considering he made the switch only on Day 1 on practices in the spring, it's been an impressive climb. Robinson says he feels better every time out.

"Just like at quarterback or any position, you can't really simulate game reps in practice," he said. "I'm still making errors and stuff like that, which was have to correct on Sundays after the game, but I'm definitely feeling more comfortable."

Robinson's career at Purdue has taken quite an interesting - he called it "wild" - path, from one-time emergency starter at quarterback to redshirting to contributing on defense. As a true freshman in 2010, he was forced into action midseason, due to a multitude of injuries at QB, and performed reasonable well under the circumstances. In his only start vs. No. 7 Wisconsin, he threw for 141 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions, as Purdue hung with the Badgers for a half.

But as Purdue's QB got healthy, Robinson slid back down the depth chart, and redshirted in 2011. With the Boilers' depth thin at linebacker headed to this season, the former three-star QB prospect jumped to defense.

"I'm not going to say it wasn't a shocker," Robinson said of the move. "I didn't know that was coming, but I accepted it and took on that role and took it as a challenge. And I can honestly say I am happy the switch did happen. I'll always be a quarterback and will always love that, but there's a lot less pressure at quarterback. It's a nice change."

He had little idea of what kind of impact he could make. On the first day of spring, Robinson weighed in at 222 pounds, more QB-light than linebacker-heavy. But he got plenty of reps then, with middle linebackers Dwayne Beckford suspended and Mike Lee injured.

"After spring ball got over, I thought to myself that I did at least have a chance to compete and get on the field and give some breathers to guys," said Robinson, who has three tackles this season. "That's kind of the role I've taken now, rotating in with Will Lucas. I guess it is pretty nice to get out there and get some playing time."

Now, Robinson just has to get that mindset straight, so he feels like a linebacker.

"You've still kind of got to get out there in a controlled frenzy, for lack of a better term," he said. "The physicality of those other guys, those offensive linemen are coming and I give up a lot of pounds and strength to those guys, so I've got to make up for it in effort."

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