Maryland’s Matt Robinson Shouldn’t Trust Position Switch from Safety to Linebacker

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Spring practice is underway for the Maryland Terrapins, and while Matt Robinson hasn’t been cleared for contact, he’ll be preparing to start in a different position this fall.

Robinson has played his entire Terps career at safety and defensive back, but he’ll move to SAM linebacker to add depth.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Robinson isn’t the first safety to turn linebacker since Randy Edsall was hired after the 2010 season.

Kenneth Tate was an All-ACC safety as a junior in 2010, but Edsall and then-defensive coordinator Todd Bradford moved him to “Star,” a hybrid linebacker-safety position. He only played four games there before sustaining a season-ending injury, and when he returned as a fifth-year senior, he came back as the strong-side linebacker.

In short, the experiment didn’t go as hoped. At the time, Edsall said it was a better, more natural fit for Tate, who often made plays by creeping closer to the line of scrimmage.

“When you take a look at Kenny and you take a look at his abilities, he’s better suited to be a linebacker and he’s better suited to be a linebacker for his future after he’s done playing here,” Edsall told The Washington Times during spring practices in 2011.

As a safety, Tate had 100 tackles in 2010, including 58 solo, and four forced fumbles. He was the first Maryland player in a decade to reach the 100-mark in single-season tackles.

Last season at linebacker, he had 42 total tackles. It’s probably safe to say those weren’t the kind of numbers Edsall tossed around when he was selling Tate on the switcheroo.

Bradford is no longer the defensive coordinator, but new DC Brian Stewart is trying to implement the same shift this season with Robinson – and hoping for better results.

Moving Robinson is far less of a risk than it was in Tate’s case. As a freshman, Robinson started all 13 games as a defensive back, but he missed all but three games of his sophomore year with an injury. He missed a considerable chunk of 2012 with injuries and logged 26 tackles all season (21 solo).

Ben Broman, of Testudo Times, thinks it could be a good move, writing: “Unlike Tate, who excelled at safety, Robinson has always seemed like a better fit at linebacker, so that move is promising.”

Robinson hasn’t had the success at safety that Tate did, but then again, Edsall thought Tate, a first-team All-ACC safety, was “better suited” to play linebacker, too.

Sounds like the coach has a really great eye for who’s going to play best at which positions – but Robinson might not want to take his word for it.

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