Matt Robinson should be at the point in his Maryland career where everything is done on muscle memory. The former Atholton standout should also be at the point where his starting position is solidified.
Had Robinson stayed healthy, and remained at safety, he might be at that point. But after missing large chunks of the past two seasons with injuries to both shoulders and his groin, Robinson is starting over as an outside linebacker.
At least he’s listed as a starter going into Monday night’s first preseason practice in College Park, though Randy Edsall said earlier in the day during his news conference that the competition between Robinson and junior Alex Twine for one of the outside linebacker spots is among the most intense on the team.
Robinson, a fourth-year junior who was granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA after missing 16 games the past two seasons, said Monday that he’s “95 to 100 percent” and that he’s looking forward to getting back on the field.
Asked how frustrating the past two seasons have been, Robinson said, “It’s definitely been hard mentally, it’s definitely been tough trying to get my body back [healthy] and just staying positive and just wanting to get back out there despite what I’ve gone through.
“I’m happy to be where I’m at right now and leaving all that stuff in the past and move forward and play football.”
Robinson said the adjustment to linebacker has not been hard from a mental standpoint in terms of learning the position strategically, but that “I’ve got to get used to the physicality of playing in the box and playing against linemen every down. That’s something I’ve got to get used to as camp goes on.”
The last Terp to make such a transition was Kenny Tate, who was moved from safety to linebacker as a junior when Randy Edsall replaced Ralph Friedgen. Tate was never the same dominating player that he was at safety, in large part because of the knee injuries he sustained as a linebacker.
Robinson said that he hasn’t reached out to Tate about the move to outside linebacker, but he has talked with others who currently play the positon. Robinson, who played linebacker in high school, does not seemed that fazed by the move.
“I don’t know if it’s the learning curve, but it definitely does seem faster because I’m closer to the line of scrimmage,” he said. “It’s just being more physical, that’s going to be the big part. I’m not looking at it as I’m losing ability [as a safety]. They moved me there and hopefully I’m going to get accustomed to it and make plays for the team.”