Tre’Shawn Robinson made a name for himself at Idaho, flying around the field and hitting people from his middle linebacker spot. Now in an NFL training camp, Robinson will be afforded the same luxury…sort of.
Despite a senior campaign that saw Robinson rack up 117 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and the accolade of being named to the all-WAC second team, it seems that his future won’t be on the defensive side of the ball.
At the very least, he is still going to get to hit people. The Oakland Raiders signed Robinson as an undrafted free agent the week following the draft to play fullback.
The move to offense for Robinson makes sense. Size and speed are often times the most important factors to NFL teams when evaluating players at certain positions, and in terms of playing linebacker in the NFL those things work against him. Listed at 5-feet-11-inches and 246 pounds, Robinson lacks ideal height for an NFL linebacker, and without the speed to be able to cover ground in coverage there aren’t many defensive schemes in which Robinson fits in.
Fullback is a different story for Robinson. His bulky frame is tailor made for the position and his height becomes somewhat of an advantage, giving him a low point to take on defenders as a blocker. Robinson said that the savviness that served him well playing middle linebacker gives him an edge at fullback as well.
Robinson will be playing in a run heavy variance of the west coast offense under Raiders Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp. This will ask a little more out of the Oakland fullbacks than just clearing holes as blockers. The ability to run receiving routes out of the backfield might be the most taxing thing for Robinson to get used to, especially considering his competition at the position.
The Raiders also have incumbent starter Marcel Reece, a former Washington Husky receiver and Owen Schmitt, a standout fullback at West Virginia in camp competing for a roster spot. Teams usually carry no more than one fullback, if any, on an active 53-man regular season roster.
Robinson should have a fair opportunity to compete for the role, as competition for many roster spots should be up for grabs under first year head coach Dennis Allen.
We were able to catch up with TreShawn to see how his NFL career has been going up to this point.
Vandal Nation: Tell us about how the draft process went for you
Tre’Shawn Robinson: The week before the draft I got a couple calls, Oakland being one of those teams. I wasn’t expected to be drafted, but I expected to be signed the next day. That didn’t happen. I ended up getting a call the following weekend from Oakland to come try out for their rookie mini camp.
VN: What kind of discussions did you have with teams about playing a different position?
TR: Every team had a different outlook. Some teams saw me as a fullback, some teams saw me as a linebacker. Whatever fit their scheme or team needs. I talked to the running backs coach (in Oakland) and he let me know the whole gist of things and what they needed.
VN: What has it been like for you playing on the offensive side of ball?
TR: In high school I did play fullback, tight end and running back so its not the first time. Mini camp first day was a lot of information a lot to take in and digest. You got an hour for meetings and two hours on the practice field, so from meeting to practice you have to know what you’re doing. You can see the business aspect of it, every little thing counts and you have to do things right all the time.
VN: What’s been the differences between linebacker and fullback for you?
TR: I’m still being able to hit people. It’s pretty much the same thing. It is fun I love playing the game of football. Playing different positions, it takes adjusting, as I learn the plays and I learn the position and now I get to read defenses. Playing fullback it helps because I played linebacker in college. I can see what the defense is doing. It’s still fun still learning the process, the more it counts.
VN: What are you going to miss most about Moscow?
TR: Everything. Idaho, that was my home for four years. I loved it. The bond you build with all the guys on the team. The coaches, the University of Idaho they really make you part of their family. Every little thing.
VN: What’s the biggest difference between the coaches in Oakland and coaches at Idaho?
TR: I don’t see a big difference, biggest difference I see is that you get a feel for the business aspect of playing professional football. There’s guys that have been here for rookie mini camp and are cut the next day. You don’t get as many chances as you do in college. This is a business and it’s your job now. You have to realize that, so you take it upon yourself to soak up as much as you can. If you don’t do it you’re out.
VN: What was it like stepping on the field with a guy like Darren McFadden?
TR: It’s surreal. It’s crazy sitting in the meeting room, learning the plays they’re learning for a couple hours. Then going to the practice field and doing the same plays they’re learning for a couple hours. There’s new coaches here in Oakland so they’ve had veterans come in for mini camps, So many things they’ve learned before me. As of now we’re all kind of on the same page learning the new offense. It just doesn’t seem real, I’ve seen these guys on TV for years, they’re big stars, and I’m practicing with them. You’ve got to put that aside and do your job but the first day it was eye opening.
VN: What do you have to do to make sure you stick in Oakland?
TR: Learning the plays. Doing it 110 MPH all the time and work hard. They need to see that you are working hard, working at your craft. The main thing right now is I haven’t made the team. I’ve made the roster as of right now before mini camp. My main goal is to make the 53 man (regular season) roster, as a rookie to do that is a big thing. When it comes to playing fullback I need to learn the plays.