With only ten days left until Purdue football starts again, the excitement is really starting to show itself on the faces of football fans in West Lafayette and all across Boiler Nation. One of the things I love about every football season is all of the amazing stories that are captured. Stories that are too good to be true, like backups rising to the occasion and cementing themselves in eternal greatness when the starter goes down.
Stories like that happen time and time again each year, and they are incredible! Coincidentally, today's featured player in the Kickoff Countdown has a story somewhat similar to this. He might not have achieved greatness, but his number was called when the players ahead of him were taken out. And he is also the subject of one of the more fascinating stories to come out of Boiler football camp this past spring.
Sean Robinson - Jr.
Hometown: Springfield, IL (Rochester HS)
6'3", 240 pounds
2012 Projection: Reserve at Outside Linebacker
Sean Robinson is definitely going to be one of the most interesting cases on the football team as it moves forward. Most remember him from his playing time at Quarterback as a true freshman in 2010. Prior to the start of the season, Robinson was slated as the fourth QB on the team's depth chart, and he was expected to get the redshirt his first year at Purdue.
But, as anyone could guess, the wheels quickly came off at the QB position that season. Caleb TerBush, the #2 QB in 2010, was ruled academically ineligible before the season even began. Robert Marve, who was named the starter for the year, played well through four games before a knee injury ended his season. Then, the Boilers turned to their third string Quarterback Rob Henry. He also managed to play at a high level and notched wins in both of his first two starts. But, even Henry caught the injury curse, breaking his fingers at the very beginning of a game against Illinois and missing the next against Wisconsin entirely.
And so it was that Purdue turned to its fourth QB. The inexperienced Robinson started against Wisconsin in the absence of Henry. Inevitably, the Badgers would later bring the wood at Ross-Ade, rocking the Boilers for a final score of 34-13. Robinson finished the game 19 of 38 for 141 yards passing with one TD and 3 picks. Talk about a rough game. In fact--and I'm not happy having to say this--Sean's entire play at QB in his true freshman year was less than stellar. In five appearances and that one start, he went 41 of 91 for 301 yards, 2 TDs and 6 INTs, thus recording a dismal 66.9 QB rating--which when converted from the NCAA formula to the NFL formula is a 33.3 QB rating. Ouch!
The next season, Rob Henry was named the team's starter before going down with his season-ending ACL tear before even facing an opponent. Luckily, both Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve returned, remained in good health and played very well all season long. So,as fate would have it, Robinson was not needed in 2011. Instead, Coach Hope chose to give Sean the redshirt he deserved a season prior.
But then, earlier this spring, reports coming out of Purdue practices said that Robinson had switched over to the Linebacker position. It seemed a bit baffling at first, to think of #10 as a Linebacker. But, when the reports also claimed that the move was urged by the coaches, it started to make sense. I mean, this season Purdue is already returning three former starters who are in good health between TerBush, Marve and Henry. And there is plenty of fresh, young talent behind them, particularly redshirt freshman Austin Parker and true freshman Austin Appleby. So, it seems that Robinson is no longer a necessary option behind center, and to be honest, he wasn't the most electrifying passer or inspiring field general during his play in 2010. For these reasons, it makes a lot of sense that Robinson made the transition to Linebacker.
And did he ever make a transition. Robinson spent the offseason putting on 30 pounds, bulking up to an intimidating 240 pounds! Although he has no experience playing Linebacker at the college level, Purdue coaches say that Sean's position switch has gone well and he will be competing for playing time this fall in a thin Outside Linebacker squad. While Will Lucas is a surefire starter and guys like Nnamdi Ezenwa, Armstead Williams, Robert Maci and Joe Gilliam are competing to be starters at the other OLB spot, it will certainly be interesting to see how much playing time Robinson garners this season and whether or not he can perform at a high level at his new position.