Robinson 's time to shine may have arrived

Mason Robinson, the standout athlete by way of Somerville, NJ, and 4-star prospect according to, selected Rutgers coming out of HS, over a number of schools including Boston College, Michigan State, and Iowa. Robinson had the opportunity to sit back and learn from one of college football's greats as a Fr. but his time to shine may have arrived.

Mason Robinson was a bit of a jack of all trades during his initial season at Rutgers. As a true Fr., Robinson participated in 10 games while backing up Ray Rice. The early season injury to Kordell Young catapulted Robinson to second on the depth chart and the young 'back showed glimpses of his abilities as the season evolved. Robinson was third on the team with 202 rushing yards in 2007, having carried the ball 36 times. His most prolific game - stat-wise - came at West Point: 14 carries for 82 yards.

But as is the case with so many of Schiano's offensive and defensive recruits, it was Robinson's versatility that allowed him to step on the field early. Robinson returned the initial kickoff of his career against power West Virginia, for 20 yards. On the season, Robinson participated in both kickoff and punt return duties, netting 304 aggregate yards.

As the season went on, Robinson's carries became more numerous. With the graduation of Ray Rice the opportunity will be there for Robinson, and others, to attain more of a primary role in the offense.

"Whatever coach [Schiano] tells us about who's ready to go in, best of luck to him. Every running back here is good," stated Robinson, quick to offer praise to others. "Any running back here can take it the distance. They're all very talented. So, life after Ray is really about working hard. Just trying to work as hard as you can, hitting the weight room hard, doing everything to the best of our abilities."

Much is made about the transition from high school to college life, especially for student athletes also participating in high-level athletics. Robinson noted the acclimation period, but the transition was smooth.

"I try to focus more [in college]. I try to worry about the moment. You just have to worry about the moment, about right now. It all comes down to one thing, you just have to go out there and work hard."

"I've learned that I can do it. I've learned that if I put my mind to something, I can really overcome tough situations and that I can really push myself to the limits," continued Robinson.

Robinson played his high school ball in the 175 to 180-pound range (his upper-class years). One year into the Rutgers Strength and Condition Program finds Robinson near his ideal playing weight. "I'm around 188 right now. But I'm trying to hit 190 to 195," said Robinson.

Robinson has the frame to easily carry 190 to 195 pounds and most of his effort will be directed at maintaining his ability to cut and shift. But the added bulk, as Rutgers fans learned from watching Ray Rice over the years, certainly won't hurt against some of the more physically imposing teams in the Big East.

Joe Martinek and Mason Robinson have similar builds and some could argue, similar styles. Kordell Young is the flashiest and has the greatest acceleration. But, it's Jourdan Brooks, says Robinson, that Rutgers fans should keep an eye on.

"The thing about Jourdan that people don't know about is that, he's big, but he's fast too. Once he starts getting those wheels going, he can run with a lot of guys. Kordell and I are shifty and Joe has some moves too."

Choices, and certainly an abundance of them, is what this spring camp is about, and in particular assessing the possible relative contribution of each player down the road. Given that RU's current stable of 'backs has such unique characteristics - whether it be size, speed, acceleration, or some combination of the three - they may all find themselves contributing in some manner. They all have something unique to offer.

But for now, Robinson tells us, the focus remains on today, on this series, and on this snap.

"I just hope to get better as a player, to get smarter, to gain more intelligence, to just battle hard."

"We're definitely focused because we have a common goal. Once we hit the Hale Center and the weight room, and the film room, we just gotta hit it hard."

Matei may be reached at

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