Robinson Up to the Challenge

CLEMSON – As Akeem Robinson walks off the practice field with helmet in hand, it is blatantly obvious that he is one of the most impressive looking specimens on the Clemson football team. At 6-foot-5 and a ripped 255 pounds, Robinson is a freak of nature. He is very imposing, yet oddly enough agile, graceful and quick.

It's that very God-given body and athleticism that has fans and coaches alike drooling at the possibilities of what he could do on the football field as a tight end.

Robinson, a rising red-shirt sophomore, has the size to handle any blocking assignment given to him, and is fast enough to gain separation from any linebacker that is appointed to cover him. He is the exact model of what the perfect tight end looks like.

But looking like one and playing like one are two entirely different things. The weakest part of Robinson's game is his hands, which is the lifeblood of topnotch tight end.

"His hands have gotten better this year," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "Earlier in the year, he wasn't catching the ball real good. You can lose confidence real quickly in that area. Catching is such a mental thing that if you lose confidence, you start thinking about it and dropping balls."

However, due to countless hours of extra work after practice at catching the ball, Robinson has improved twofold from where he was just six months ago.

"I had to work hard, and working hard for me just isn't being out there for practice," Robinson said. "I had to stay extra and catch after practice. Like last year, I caught 100 balls everyday after practice. And this year I still do it because you can never stop learning.

"That's been my progression, just bettering my hand-eye coordination and to just have a feel for the ball and making my hands softer."

There are days when Robinson, currently slated as the second-team tight end, lives up to what coaches want and expect. And when he does, he is a force to be reckoned with.

"You can't stop him, you can only contain him," Bowden said jokingly after Robinson had a good practice Monday. "It happened today. I told the team after practice that you can't stop him, you can only contain him."

To help ensure that he stays nimble, Robinson has lost 10 pounds and is currently playing at 255. However, it hasn't been easy to maintain that weight.

"I'm kind of struggling keeping it there because I was 265," he said. "But I took it upon myself to lose weight. I'm loving it at 255, because I'm still maintaining my strength and I'm quicker off the ball, and that's why I took it upon myself.

"I'm doing what I can to make myself a better and complete player."

With three full seasons ahead of him left to play, and assuming he keeps improving, it seems a given Robinson's talent level will ultimately reach and surpass his impressive physique.

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