ATHENS, Ga. - Redshirt sophomore linebacker Christian Robinson can look back with amusement at his obscurity this time last year on Georgia's football team.
"I remember getting in against Tennessee for the first time," Robinson said. "The guys were laughing at me, and Marcus Washington said, 'What are you doing? You're not supposed to be out here.' I told him, 'Coach sent me out here.'"
No Bulldogs player other than redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray has more to digest compared to last August than Robinson, a 6-foot-2, 211-pounder from Greater Atlanta Christian. He spent much of last season backing up Rennie Curran at weakside linebacker, but Curran led the SEC in tackles and rarely left games.
Curran skipped his senior season to enter the NFL draft, leaving Robinson to work alongside senior Akeem Dent this spring as the two inside linebackers in new coordinator Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme. Robinson learned from Dent in the same manner he learned from Curran, but Dent underwent toe surgery before preseason camp and is out all month.
So in 10 months, Robinson has gone from an unknown taking the field in Knoxville to the pivotal Georgia defender until Dent returns.
"He's a conscientious guy who has some athletic ability," Grantham said. "He is kind of the quarterback out there for us. He gets us lined up. If he can play solid for us, we'll be fine."
Robinson made 19 tackles last season and exited spring as the starter at the "Mo" position, which helps coordinate the defensive backfield. He has shifted to Mike to replace Dent and must become more vocal to everyone, not just those in the secondary. Junior Marcus Dowtin is working at Mo.
"Christian and I came in together, and we've been working hard," Dowtin said. "Things have happened, and we have a chance now to show our ability. Akeem being out is a big hit to our defense, but you're going to see two good linebackers who are going to get after it and help this team compete."
Said Robinson: "I feel like I have to take a little bit more initiative, but it's nothing Akeem hasn't taught me already from observing him and guys like Rennie Curran and Dannell Ellerbe."
Before he became Rivals.com's No. 19 outside linebacker nationally in the 2008 signing class, Robinson once was a receiver with a hero who can't be lauded too much around Athens.
"In high school, I got to watch Calvin Johnson play a little bit," Robinson said. "Before Georgia started recruiting me, I had some friends who went to (Georgia) Tech games. I played wide receiver, and he was the best at the time. I know I'm not supposed to say he was my favorite, but he was."
Odds and ends
Coach Mark Richt said Thursday that Logan Gray has been impressive at receiver, as has Hutson Mason at backup quarterback. ... Freshman tackle Kenarious Gates had his quick camp start slowed by cramps. ... Freshman twins Alec and Alexander Ogletree are working at safety and fullback, respectively.