March 30, 2012 4:50:30 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mostly the focus, for this reporter, at least was the big boys that are assigned to protect the players in the red jerseys - the offensive line.
The Bulldogs are returning three starters back this spring and are hopeful to have four back in the fall as senior offensive guard Tobias Smith is trying to return from his third major surgery of his MSU career.
The one question mark is at right tackle Damien Robinson as he begins the process of taking over for Addison Lawrence. However, Robinson has seemingly found a home at right tackle. After suffering through two seasons of as he described it "in a phone booth" at offensive guard, the sophomore offensive lineman for has a chance to return to the tackle position he finds more comfortable.
"Tackle is the position they originally recruited me for so it's a homecoming type feeling for me," Robinson said. "The guard thing I did the first two years was nothing more than trying to find a spot on the second team and gets reps. Tackle is where I think I belong."
As the Bulldogs football team attempted to dodge raindrops Thursday evening in its fourth spring practice of the season, Robinson remained one of two non-starters from last season trying to earn a job before fall camp starts.
"I do feel this spring is my time to shine and show my coaches that I deserve to be at right tackle and that's the reason I came here is to play that position for you," Robinson said. "If I can't prove that right now, then why am I here at Mississippi State? That's the way I feel coming into this spring."
MSU continues to rotate the middle of the first-string line among three-year starter Gabe Jackson, center/guard Dillon Day and junior college transfer center Dylan Holley throughout the first four days of practice.
"It's not like we're starting at scratch this season with guys either in the short term or long term having experience at that position right now," Jackson said. "I have to be a leader for the younger guys and that feels weird for me to say but it's got to happen."
The key for the 310-pound Robinson, who chose MSU over the likes of University of Mississippi, University of Alabama, University of Arkansas, Auburn University, Florida State University and LSU, is trying to find chemistry with the other four members of the line.
"At tackle it's just about looking at corners and keeping your head on a swivel for all the little kinks that come with that position," Robinson said. "I'm not made to just think about what's in front of me and being stronger than the guy line up opposite of me. I like to use
my legs and athleticism to my advantage."
Robinson, a former four-star recruit from Olive Branch High School, may be the only non-returning starter back once fall camp begins in August as players and coaches are still hopeful senior Tobias Smith returns from injury. Smith suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the loss against LSU last year requiring his third major surgery in his MSU career.
"We need to have Tobias come back and the thing with him is I'm just used to playing with him right beside me - that confidence and chemistry is already there."
The next practice is Saturday starting at 11 a.m. which is of course, open to the public. MSU coach Dan Mullen said this session will see light scrimmaging on the practice field for the first time this spring.
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