Senior running back Mason Robinson was shifted to receiver, and spent Tuesday's practice playing his new (yet old) position. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Mason opened the 2009 season at receiver, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Cincinnati.
"I didn't expect (the move), but when I was told about it, I could understand the situation," Robinson said. "Right now I'm expecting to stay there. If I want to embrace this role and run with it …I'm not trying to look into the future. I'm trying to worry about right now."
Robinson was in the mix for carries at running back, but Rutgers' receiver depth took a huge blow in training camp as Tim Wright (knee) was lost for the season, Quron Pratt (shoulder) is out another three weeks and Mark Harrison's (head) time frame for a return is uncertain.
After Tartacoff's injury, Rutgers was left with few options to create depth so turned to Robinson.
"I do want to play running back, but it's not a jolt based on the situation," Robinson said. "We have many running backs right now and everybody is fighting for time, and the way the receiver situation is, it's just sad to see guys go down. That's where we need help, so it was a good move. It was a good move for the team."
Robinson said he is meeting with first-year receivers coach P.J. Fleck to learn the offense from the receiver's perspective, but added it is a difficult transition because he spent most of his life as a running back.
"Running back is more second nature to me," Robinson said. "I've been doing that for all my years of football. That's what made it the hardest. As far as the wide receiver situation, it's sad when you see guys get hurt. Whatever position they put me in, I'm going to try and make plays and be somebody where they just can't key on Sanu."
At least Robinson has a base to rely on when it comes to receiver.
He was a running back at Somerville (N.J.) High and spent his first two seasons at Rutgers in the backfield. However, in the spring of 2009 he switched to receiver. He was injured against the Bearcats in the season opener and returned to running back in the spring.
Robinson worked with the first-team offense in Tuesday's practice.
"It's a little rocky right now. It could be smoother, but it's just work," Robinson said. "It's just keep working on it and not giving up. I'm sure (some of the best) had their first few days at their position and they weren't the best at it. That's always the mindset and always the goal to be the best."
Robinson is approaching the switch like he will remain at receiver the rest of the season, and has taken an instant liking to Fleck.
"Coach Fleck is a ball of fire," Robinson said. "I love it, though. I like a coach that can actually go out there and show you the right way. You get a lot of coaches that tell you, ‘Oh, you gotta do this, break it off at this point and do that.' Coach Fleck was out there running without pulling a hamstring."