STARKVILLE — Damien Robinson seems to have found a home at right tackle.
After suffering through two seasons of being “in a phone booth” at offensive guard, the Mississippi State University sophomore offensive lineman has a chance this season to replace Addison Lawrence and to return to a tackle position he finds more comfortable.
“Tackle is the position they originally recruited me for, so it’s a homecoming type feeling for me,” Robinson said. “The guard thing I did the first two years was nothing more than trying to find a spot on the second team and gets reps. Tackle is where I think I belong.”
As the Bulldogs attempted to dodge raindrops Thursday evening in their fourth spring practice of the season, Robinson remained one of two non-starters from last season trying to earn a job before fall camp starts.
“I feel this spring is my time to shine and show my coaches I deserve to be at right tackle, and that’s the reason I came here is to play that position for you,” Robinson said. “If I can’t prove that then why am I here at Mississippi State? That’s the way I feel coming into this spring.”
MSU has rotated three-year starter Gabe Jackson, center/guard Dillon Day, and junior college transfer center Dylan Holley in the middle of the first-string line in the first four days of practice.
“It’s not like we’re starting at scratch this season with guys either in the short term or long term having experience at that position,” Jackson said. “I have to be a leader for the younger guys, and that feels weird for me to say, but it’s got to happen.”
The key for the 310-pound Robinson, who chose MSU over the University of Mississippi, the University of Alabama, the University of Arkansas, Auburn University, Florida State University, and LSU, is building chemistry on the line.
“At tackle, it’s just about looking at corners and keeping your head on a swivel for all the little kinks that come with that position,” Robinson said. “I’m not made to just think about what’s in front of me and being stronger than the guy line up opposite of me. I like to use my legs and athleticism to my advantage.”
Robinson, a former four-star recruit from Olive Branch High School, may be the only non-returning starter back once fall camp begins in
August. Players and coaches still hope senior Tobias Smith will return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered Sept. 15, 2011, in a loss against LSU. The injury forced Smith to have his third major surgery in his MSU career.
“We need to have Tobias come back,” Robinson said. “I’m used to playing with him right beside me. That confidence and chemistry is already there.”