LUBBOCK, Texas — As Texas Tech inches closer to the beginning of summer and fall practices next month, the coaches are staying busy with their recruiting schedules and preparing for their first full season in West Texas.
Tech defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson knows the secondary will play a vital role in how successful the first season is under Tommy Tuberville and defending the high-octane offensive passing teams in the Big 12 Conference.
But Robinson is up to the challenge and has a young group of talented defensive backs to help push Tech closer to the next level of competition.
I sat down with the coach known as T-Rob to talk more about adjusting to the Big 12 and the upcoming season.
RaiderPower: So it's been nearly six months since the changing of the guard at Tech, do you feel like you are getting a little more settled in now?
Robinson: "It definitely doesn't feel like its been six months. Been traveling and doing the recruiting deal. It's my first time to recruit Texas. My main area is Dallas so it's been interesting to see a lot of what is going on out there. Great kids, great football in Texas. I'm starting to see what everyone has been talking about. This is football country. It's a great opportunity for myself to be here in this position and to be able to coach football in the state of Texas.
"As far as being in Lubbock, it's been great. I'm really enjoying it and a big part of that is the fans and the way they have really accepted us. Coming into this situation we didn't have that footpath coming in. Mike Leach did a great job here and did a lot for this program. He won a lot of games. So to come in here to a program that's been successful, you don't know what kind of feelings you will get on it. I'm extremely pleased with everything so far — from the players to the fans and everyone in the organization. I'm excited about what's next to come."
RP: What's the difference, that you have seen, in how the players and teams are at the high school level in Texas compared to where you normally would go recruit in the Southeast?
T-Rob: "Normally I recruit a lot around Miami and I still do. I'm from there so I go around Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Georgia, those areas. But there's a difference when you recruit someone from Texas. When you get a kid from Texas, you get a guy that's been involved in a program, that understands how to prepare for college football. You get a more college-ready guy. So as far as the defensive backs are concerned, we're looking for kids that can come in and play immediately. So it's a great opportunity to get these guys from Texas."
RP: You've known coach Tuberville for a long time, you played for him at Auburn and you were a grad assistant under him as well. What was the though process like for you when he offered you the chance to be reunited with him here?
T-Rob: "I tell you what, to see a guy make good on his promise is just something else. He sat at my house 10 years ago and told my mom a couple of things. He said, first of all, if I came to Auburn he would see that I graduate. Secondly, he said if I came to Auburn and did everything he told me to do on and off the field, one day he would either help me write a resume, give me a recommendation or hire me if he had the opportunity.
"I'm privileged and I thank God every day for coach Tuberville. He's just meant so much to me in my life, it goes beyond anything being said from me. He's a great man. A man of integrity, a man of honesty. He's a man that taught me everything I know about the game of football and about life. So it's definitely an honor to work for him. Especially being a defensive back coach — that's a trust position. You have to have someone you trust to be in that role and know what he's doing and someone you can communicate with. Definitely excited to be here and with coach Tuberville and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."
RP: Talk about the defensive backs here already. You only got into about 20 percent of the defense during the spring, using it mainly get a feel for these guys and work on conditioning. What do you like so far?
T-Rob: "Those guys did a great job. We did throw a lot at them. They're doing a lot of things that they've done in the past plus more. We're pressing, running a lot more coverage schemes and for those guys to come in and accept what we're teaching and do what they did during the spring, I'm very proud of those guys for that.
"We have a lot of great players here. We didn't inherit any guys that can't play. There are also a lot of guys we recruited that can come in and play right away. We're talented, which is a good thing, but we're also young. So you have to take note of that. We just have to change the technique up and learn to get a little bit better each day."
RP: You get the challenge of playing in a league where every team loves to try and spread out a defense and throw all over the place. What's that challenge like of playing against these Big 12, pass-happy offenses?
T-Rob: "It's a little different, but I'm definitely up to the challenge. That's not an issue. But at the same time, you have to be aware of that challenge. It's crazy when you start looking at your "Goal Board" that you put up now compared to the SEC. Points are different, yards are different because you know that they are going to sling it all over the park. So you have a new challenge that you want your players here to meet.
But I'm up to it. The biggest thing I tell our guys is that we're going to play at a level that our opponents are unable, unwilling to match. And we are going to work 100 percent of the time at that same level."
More from T-Rob next week on RaiderPower.com.
Travis Cram is the Managing Editor for RaiderPower.com. Follow his daily and weekly updates on Twitter: http://twitter.com/traviscram