The Oregon football team lost three great defenders for the upcoming season in Avery Patterson, Brian Jackson and Terrance Mitchell — but the good news is in the fresher faces. Redshirt freshman Tyree Robinson worked his tail off last year, and he told Yahoo Sports that “it’s time to step up.” With a hole to fill at the safety position, Robinson is poised to start and has all the tools to excel. Additionally, both his background and his attitude toward sports are in his favor.
Robinson enrolled at Oregon in September, 2013, and has never looked back. Before Oregon, Robinson, a standout athlete in football, volleyball and basketball, helped lead the Lincoln High School Hornets of San Diego to a 10-3 record on the gridiron under head coach David Dunn. Check out the short video below of him in action.
Although Robinson will play strong safety for the Ducks, he did it all for the Hornets. In fact, Robinson was rated the No. 6 athlete in the country and made the Cal-Hi All-State Team as a multipurpose player for his outstanding play at defensive back and efforts at wide receiver. It was his exploits in the secondary that earned him an invitation to the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. As a receiver, Robinson had 17 catches with a 19-yard average, but again, scouts and fans were more enthusiastic about the 60 tackles and four interceptions from this 6-foot-4 stud.
Robinson can name 17 of the schools that offered him scholarships, but according to SBNation, there were actually more than 30. Some of these inquiring institutions should sound familiar, including Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Georgia and all of the Pac-12 schools. Robinson was highly coveted, but after a trip to the land of green and yellow and a visit with Nick Aliotti, the deal was done; Robinson had decided to play basketball and football at the University of Oregon.
Several months ago, though, Robinson decided to focus solely on football. Back in high school, he was almost as good on the court as he was on the field. In only his junior year, he was named to the Cal-Hi All-State Grid-Hoop basketball team after averaging a whopping 21 points and six rebounds for the Hornets. Robinson wished to play basketball in addition to football at the school of his choice, and the Ducks were accommodating.
After seeing Oregon men’s basketball thrive in its own right and realizing his own potential, Robinson decided to focus primarily on football and school, despite basketball being his “first love” according to the Daily Emerald. But in accordance with the recent increase in tall, athletic defensive backs, Robinson’s experience in basketball helped him develop impressive footwork and speed that will aid him in the position. Look below for some of the moves that will help Ducks football, but will be missed by the hoopsters and hoop fans.
After his successful prep career, Robinson enrolled at U of O. A common misconception is that redshirts go unnoticed and fly under the radar; that couldn’t be further from the truth. Robinson tore it up on the scout team and impressed the coaching staff so much that they took him on the road several times as an emergency backup. He was never needed, but he and the coaches were confident that he would be ready to go if called. Some media outlets even mentioned that former defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti felt that Robinson could have played as a reserve and on special teams.
But that’s all in the past. The present has seen additional change for Robinson. He trained hard the entire 2013 season and was especially tenacious in the spring, where his work was shown to have paid off during game time. College football spring games are not necessarily the ideal scouting grounds, but Robinson had an MVP-like performance where he made interceptions and broke up passes like it was nobody’s business. After the game, Head Coach Mark Helfrich praised his game, and Helfrich is an important person to impress.
Robinson is still a bit lanky, but his length, athleticism and agility will serve him well in the secondary. Although he seems a bit thin, Robinson manages to bully the opposition. It wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that we might see him locking down receivers if they get stuck on his island. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he makes up for it with a leaping ability seen mostly in old Chinese action flicks. He often uses his hops and his long arms to disrupt passes — or make engulfing tackles.
Robinson’s advanced set of skills make him a perfect fit at the safety position. There will be doubts that a freshman can man such a hefty role, but some of the Oregon freshmen to do so include legends John Boyett and Patrick Chung. Robinson may not be able to compete at the same level as those guys at this point, but the future certainly looks bright. The question that remains then is, will he blossom today or tomorrow?
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck