December 17, 2012 5:54:19 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Josh Robinson never has a bad day.
The Mississippi State University redshirt freshman backup tailback knows a recent injury to teammate Nick Griffin could result in more carries for himself, but he isn't concerned about his workload.
"My role on this team in the future is going to be a motivator and inspiration for the team," Robinson said. "It ain't about me. Everybody hits that wall and wants to quit, but it's about providing inspiration to my teammates."
Robinson watched Griffin, a sophomore, tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last week in a non-contact drill. The injury means MSU (8-4) will be without its third-leading rusher for its game against Northwestern University (9-3) in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl at 11 a.m. Jan. 1, 2013, in Jacksonville, Fla.
Without Griffin, Robinson, who is second on the team in rushing (244 yards) and freshman Derrick Milton could get more opportunities behind leading rusher LaDarius Perkins.
"We lost such a big factor to our team in Nick Griffin, and we all knew as active running backs we had to focus so much more on how we could get better every day," Robinson said. "We'll sometimes bet 10 pushups on who will have the most touchdowns in practice."
The injury will force Griffin to have his second major knee surgery. The 6-foot, 225-pounder rushed for 223 yards and a touchdown this season while averaging 7 yards per carry. He tore the ACL in his left knee before spring drills two years ago.
"It's just a tragedy," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "That's twice to a young man. Non-contact, I mean just running down the field injuries. That's the sad part about it. With him, I think the confidence he gained in playing the best football I've seen him play the last couple of weeks of the season coming back from the first injury is going to give him more confidence coming back from this one."
On Sunday in a scrimmage that featured players who didn't see a lot of action this season, Robinson turned the corner on long runs in the Palmeiro Center, the program's indoor practice facility. Robinson was part of a first-string offense that included redshirt freshman quarterback Dak Prescott. He led the rushing attack Sunday against the first-string defense with 11 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown.
"Josh is one of kind," Prescott said. "We have faith he can get yards for us with his deceptive speed."
Robinson gave himself the nickname "the bowling ball" because his 215-pound frame makes the lightning quick tailback look a ball always leaning and going forward with his explosiveness. In the scrimmage, he even tried to re-enact a bowling ball rolling downhill by doing somersaults following a first-down carry.
"We expected to get a lot of playing time, and we just learn from each other," Robinson said. "Derrick (Milton) runs like a stallion, Nick (Griffin) runs like an angry rhino, Perkins is the quick little rabbit, and me, well, I'm the bowling ball."
Robinson's nickname reflects a positive personality that he brings to the practice field every day. His believes God gave him his talent so it's only natural to come to the field with a smile on his face.
"You just never know if one of my teammates is going to be down about something," Robinson said. "If my talking or being me can make him happy, I'm doing my job."
Robinson had just three games this season with more than 30 yards rushing. After a successful scrimmage, he is excited MSU is ramping up its preparations for its bowl game.
"I know our team will need something from LaDarius (Perkins) and myself in this Gator Bowl," Robinson said. "It's my first bowl game I get to play in, and if you don't think I'm excited to know how we're going to try and score, you're wrong my man."