Christian Robinson expects the Georgia Bulldogs to have proven leaders on both sides of the ball.
Several months after Aaron Murray surpassed all expectations as a redshirt freshman quarterback, Robinson is working to gain that same respect calling signals for the defense. The 6-foot-2, 226-pound redshirt junior out of Greater Atlanta Christian played the "Mo" linebacker in Georgia's 3-4 scheme last year but now has the pre-snap responsibilities at the "Mike."
"The Mike is where I really want to be," Robinson said. "Last year, I was out there because I've known what was going on, and because Akeem Dent and I could help each other side by side. I am really excited about being the play-caller this year and making those calls and getting us lined up. I know we have other guys who know how to do it, but I want to be the guy who's up front in making those decisions."
Robinson, the son of former South Carolina linebacker Ken Robinson, called the defensive shots in practice last August when Dent was out with a foot injury. He amassed 46 tackles and six tackles for loss last season but was bumped out of the starting lineup by Marcus Dowtin for consecutive games against Kentucky and Florida.
In addition to developing his leadership abilities this spring, Robinson also is having to tutor sophomore Alec Ogletree, who is playing the "Mo" after starting the final four games last season at safety.
"Christian is the guy who understands what's going on at the linebacker position above all of our players," coach Mark Richt said. "That's really been his strength - his knowledge of the game and his ability to study and prepare. He's been a little bit undersized and hasn't been as strong as you would like, and part of that was him having an injury early in his career that kind of slowed him down.
"He is now getting much stronger and is getting bigger, and with him adding the size with his knowledge, I think it could be really good for him and really good for us."
Robinson has not been shy in voicing his displeasure about the lack of leadership last season, though he has not cited any individuals. He even has used the term "cancerous" to describe some of the players no longer in the program.
This is the third consecutive spring in which Bulldogs players have pledged that better leadership is on the way for a program that finished No. 2 nationally in 2007 but has since gone 10-3, 8-5 and 6-7.
"I'm just looking to solidify that leadership spot," Robinson said. "I feel like I've gained the respect of my teammates, and they know that I know my stuff. I have so much confidence right now in dealing with the coaches and knowing what to expect from certain plays in the defense.
"We're just so much further along already than we were last year."
Odds and ends
Junior tailback Washaun Ealey missed Tuesday's two-hour practice with a strained left hamstring and is listed as day-to-day. ... Right guard continues to be anybody's guess, with redshirt sophomore Chris Burnette working with the first team Tuesday. ... When asked about the progress of the two early enrollees, quarterback Christian LeMay and receiver Chris Conley, Richt laughed and said, "They're lost."