The 5’8”, 178 pound back from Westview high school in Avondale, AZ, has had a quiet career at ASU since joining the team as a walk-on in 2009. After redshirting his first season, Robinson saw limited game action last year, getting two carries for seven yards in ASU’s 42-0 win over Washington State.
The bulk of Robinson’s work has come on the scout team in practice, working to give the defense good looks throughout the year and make them better, something he is very proud of.
“You can always get better so I look at it as the day goes by, but I think I’ve made a big improvement from last fall,” Robinson said. “The line gave a tremendous effort, they opened up holes that made me available to get down there and do what running backs do.”
Talking to Robinson for just a few minutes you can see just how grateful he is to get the reps in practice he currently is getting with a few of the top backs being out with injuries.
Robinson, who lettered in track and field, football, and basketball three times, baseball once, was named captain of his football and basketball team in high school. He had a 283-yard rushing game and holds a record with a 97-yard run from scrimmage, still, there weren’t any D-I offers for Robinson, who decided to join ASU as a walk on.
“School was one great factor in it,” Robinson admitted. “I received offers D-II and D-III schools in the Midwest and back east, but I liked the West atmosphere out here and they gave me an opportunity.”
Now with a legitimate opportunity getting reps in both practice and in Saturday’s scrimmage where he had eight carries for 62 yards and a touchdown, R.J. Robinson is starting to get the attention of a lot of people who see him everyday, working with the first couple offensive groups.
“We knew he had the ability but every time he gets in there he seems to do better and better,” coach Dennis Erickson said of Robinson. “When I first saw him I said ‘this guy isn’t bad,’ and then you put him in there and he keeps getting better and better. Saturday when we scrimmage he will see a lot of action. Last scrimmage he was probably one of the few shining stars in the whole (scrimmage). I like him. One thing about him is that he’s very smart and knows his assignments.”
Even as a smaller guy, it seems like Robinson has an easier time getting through the line of scrimmage before getting hit, something he thinks is aided by his shorter stature.
“I feel that I can get behind my offensive lineman and see holes,” Robinson mentioned. “The linebackers can’t really see me when I’m down there and by the time they see me I’m already in the hole and gone, so I think my height is a positive thing.”
While his reps are sure to diminish once Cameron Marshall and James Morrison return, Robinson has proven to many that this group of running backs is deeper than some thought, which should encourage Sun Devil fans with the recent rush of injuries.
“It’s actually a good thing because it keeps us competition ready,” Robinson said of the depth. “Always striving to get better, to get action on the field. It’s actually a tremendous thing because if one guy goes down we always have back up, so it’s good to have depth.
“It’s a good group. We’re all hard working, we keep a positive attitude, we strive to get better and the competition in our group is tremendous.”
It’s all about improvement for Robinson, and after a less than impressive scrimmage from the offense, he knows they will come out this coming Saturday and learn from their mistakes.
“We’ve been looking over film and seeing the mistakes we made and all the mental lapses that we had that we didn’t see,” Robinson admitted. “So we believe that we should come out the next scrimmage and do much better.
“I’m grateful just to get this opportunity to be out here to be part of this program, so anything I can do to make this team better and win a championship, anything I can do is great for me.”