Robinson gets playing time when it matters

by - Senior Writer -
Freshman defensive back Darius Robinson celebrates his first interception as a Tiger.

CLEMSON – Freshman defensive back Darius Robinson figured he would get some playing time on Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins.

What he didn’t figure on, however, was how soon he would get into the game and who he would be covering once he got in.

Entering the game against the Terrapins, Robinson had played just 40 snaps on the season, with 29 of those coming against Presbyterian in the Tigers’ second game, but an injury to senior Marcus Gilchrist in the first quarter forced defensive back coach Charlie Harbison’s hand, and he inserted Robinson in at corner in the dime package.

Robinson headed out onto the field, got the defensive signal from the sideline, and turned around to see Maryland receiver Torrey Smith trotting his way.

Robinson, a 6-0, 170-pounder out of Atlanta’s Westlake High School, admitted he got a case of the jitters when he saw Smith, and had only one thought.

“Actually, I couldn’t believe it. My first play out there I had to guard him,” Robinson said on Monday. “We run a lot of man, match coverage, so I was just thinking about not getting beat deep. That’s basically what I was thinking about. If he was going to catch the ball, I wanted to make sure he caught the ball in front of me.”

Robinson said he was surprised when he got the early call.

“Coach Cheese [Harbison] has a tendency to let us know to always be ready to go in the game,” Robinson said. “In the first quarter, I didn’t really expect to go in that early, but Gilly [Marcus Gilchrist] went down for a little while, so then I had to step in on a dime package. I didn’t know I was going to step in that early, but when I did I was glad that I got in early.”

The good news for Robinson is that he didn’t get beat – not deep nor did he let Smith catch anything in front of him – and he said he welcomed the chance to get out on the field when it mattered. He wound up playing 18 snaps against the Terps.

“It was just a good experience being out there and getting a feel for the game,” he said. “I’m a freshman, and of course a lot of freshmen go out there kind of jittery and that’s how I started off. The coaches throughout the week talked about how they were going to get us in and let us get a feel for the game.

“I felt like with us playing Maryland that I would get in the game so I saw it coming. Just going out there and doing little things like gunner for punt return were big. It was good just being out there for other things and not just for corner. I think just being out there – period - kind of got me over the jitters.”

Robinson did say he was happy he didn’t make any critical mistakes, but also realizes he still has a long way to go.

“I’m really not sure how I played. I know I need a lot of work,” he said. “I need to fix my technique a little bit more. I feel like I’m a long way from where I want to be. I need to work on my technique at the line and my off-technique. It’s not really so much of me being stiff, it’s just me thinking a little too much.”

He said that when he got to Clemson during the summer, he fully expected to redshirt this season given his slight frame.

“Definitely coming in and being a little undersized, I felt like I would red shirt,” he said. “But I guess the coaches saw something that I didn’t see. I guess I just work hard enough to be considered as a player to not be redshirted. So, my work ethic helped me.

“I think now I’m more prepared for the games and know to always be ready. At first, I felt like I wouldn’t be out there as much, but now I know you never know what’s going to happen throughout the game and to always be ready.”

Even with veteran and experienced defensive backs like Gilchrist, Byron Maxwell and DeAndre McDaniel running around in Clemson’s secondary, Robinson says he doesn’t get treated like a newcomer.

“They definitely help me a lot. I don’t get treated like a freshman at all when it comes to them,” Robinson said. “They treat me just like one of them and whenever they see me doing something wrong or doing something right, they let me know. I hang around all of them- Xavier Brewer, Maxwell, Gilly- the starting corners, more so than the safeties.”

Clemson has a long tradition of having good players at the cornerback position, and Robinson said he just wants to make sure the tradition continues.

“Everyone wants to go somewhere where there’s good tradition at that position,” he said. “That’s another reason why I chose Clemson because they produce really good defensive backs, so I want to continue that production.”

Allen Named to John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List

Tight End Leads Clemson in Receiving

Clemson, SC—Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen has been named one of 22 Midseason Watch List Candidates for the 2010 John Mackey Award, the honor that goes to the top tight end in college football. Allen is one of three ACC players on the list that includes George Bryan of NC State and Zach Pianalto of North Carolina.

Allen, one of just three sophomores on the list, is Clemson’s leading receiver this year with 19 catches for 259 yards and a touchdown. He had a career high seven receptions for 55 yards at North Carolina and had 5-66 at Auburn. He has had at least one reception in every game this year.

The John Mackey Award is presented by the Nassau County Sports Commission in New York. The list of semifinalists will be announced November 15 and the finalists on November 22, 2010. The award winner will be announced on December 9 at the ESPN College Football Awards Show in Orlando.

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