Georgia Bulldogs: Christian Robinson

ATHENS, Ga. -- Christian Robinson wasn’t unemployed for long.

Only a day after learning that the St. Louis Rams did not plan to keep him as a rookie free agent, Robinson accepted Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s offer to serve as one of the Bulldogs’ defensive graduate assistants this fall.

[+] EnlargeChristian Robinson
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comChristian Robinson will be back in Athens this season, as the former linebacker accepted a GA position Tuesday.
“I decided last night with my family and called and told my agent I was hanging up the helmet and that I wanted to pursue this job,” Robinson said Tuesday afternoon. “I called Coach Grantham this morning and before I could even say anything, he told me I was hired. So yeah, I was pretty excited.”

Grantham sat down with Robinson before the 2012 senior left for the Rams’ rookie camp and discussed the idea of a grad assistant position if he didn’t make the cut in the NFL. Robinson felt good about his performance in a couple of practices with the Rams and the speed with which he picked up their defensive scheme -- he even lined up alongside former Georgia teammate and first-round draft pick Alec Ogletree in some alignments -- but the team signed several other linebackers and informed him Monday that he wasn’t in their plans.

Robinson had a decision to make, but it didn’t take long for him to inform his agent, Adam Sattler, that he felt the smart move was to begin pursuing his long-term career goal of becoming a coach.

“I called my agent and talked to him and I said, ‘I have this position open to go back and be a GA and I really think that I don’t want to sit around and wait for somebody to call me to make a 90-man roster when I’m not even on their radar right now and the likelihood of making it is very low,’ ” Robinson said. “So my agent talked to me and said, ‘You’re not like a lot of guys.’ A lot of guys, this is their only option and they don’t have a slot like I do to go back and be a GA so quickly. He said, ‘It would be hard for me to tell you not to do that at this point.’ ”

Robinson still must pass the GRE to be admitted to a UGA graduate school program -- he plans to take the test next Tuesday -- and then he can jump into the responsibilities in his new position. He will replace Mike Kelly, who recently accepted a defensive line coaching position in Mississippi, in working as an on-field assistant, assembling scouting reports and scout-team preparation among the many behind-the-scenes tasks that grad assistants typically handle.

Having played for the Bulldogs so recently, Robinson knows this is a rare opportunity. But his knowledge of Grantham’s defensive scheme and terminology will also help him hit the ground running as an instructor, which should come in handy in working with the four true freshmen who will play his former position, inside linebacker, this season.

“That’s one thing my dad’s reminding me -- not a lot of guys have this opportunity, how easily it was kind of handed to me by the coaching staff,” Robinson said. “I really appreciate it. It’s definitely my dream position if I’m not playing professional football.”
With four players selected in Saturday's final rounds of the NFL draft, Georgia concluded the three-day event with eight players picked -- matching the program's record for most players picked in one year.

Last year the Bulldogs nearly tied the previous program record, eight in 2002, by having seven players selected. They reached the record this year when safety Bacarri Rambo went to the Washington Redskins in the sixth round -- although several players who hoped to hear their names called Saturday went undrafted, including nose guard Kwame Geathers, who opted to skip his senior season in college to enter the draft.

Georgia players halted a conspicuous trend Thursday when outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (17th overall to Pittsburgh) and inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (30th to St. Louis) were both picked in the first round. It had been eight years since Georgia had a defensive player picked in the first round, dating to when David Pollack and Thomas Davis were both first-rounders in 2005.

Defensive players dominated this draft class for Georgia, with seven of the eight picks having played under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham last season. Along with Jones, Ogletree and Rambo, nose guard John Jenkins (third round, New Orleans), safety Shawn Williams (third round, Cincinnati), cornerback Sanders Commings (fifth round, Arizona) and defensive end Cornelius Washington (sixth round, Chicago) were picked this year.

Receiver Tavarres King (fifth round, Denver) was Georgia's only offensive draft pick.

Shortly after the draft concluded, defensive end Abry Jones tweeted that he had signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Meanwhile, several other former Georgia players became available to sign with teams as undrafted free agents. In the next few days, Geathers, receiver Marlon Brown, cornerback Branden Smith and linebackers Christian Robinson and Michael Gilliard could sign with teams via free agency.

Post-spring position review: ILB 

April, 23, 2013
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Editor’s note: Our DawgNation post-spring positional analysis continues this week after focusing on the offense last week. Today we examine the inside linebackers:

Returning players/stats: Amarlo Herrera, Jr. (Nine starts in 2012. 70 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one interception); Ramik Wilson, Jr. (6 tackles, one TFL); Kosta Vavlas, Jr. (9 tackles)

Newcomers: Johnny O’Neal, Fr. (ESPN’s No. 153 overall prospect in the 2013 class, No. 5 ILB. Expected to enroll this summer); Tim Kimbrough, Fr. (No. 289 overall, No. 11 ILB. Expected to enroll this summer); Ryne Rankin, Fr. (No. 296, No. 13 ILB. Enrolled in January); Reggie Carter, Fr. (No. 32 ILB. Enrolled in January).

UGA spring preview: 5 positions to watch 

February, 28, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Coaches always emphasize the importance of competition during spring practice, and there will certainly be more than enough at Georgia once the Bulldogs start spring drills on March 2.

The competition on the defensive side of the ball will be the story of the spring, as coordinator Todd Grantham and company work to find replacements for the 12 departed regulars who figured heavily into the Bulldogs’ defensive plans last fall.

Here are five positions that bear close watching this spring:

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Last two classes made instant impact 

February, 5, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia’s coaching staff proved in the last two seasons that it is more than willing to play a newcomer in order to address glaring needs. And as they prepare to put the finishing touches on their 2013 signing class, the coaches can only hope that the newest Bulldogs can be as effective as their predecessors from that last two years at addressing Georgia’s depth concerns.

Mark Richt’s critics might once have had a point when they observed that his coaching staff gave veterans too much of a benefit of the doubt when it came to playing them over talented young players. The last two seasons have neutralized those criticisms, as it’s hard to imagine Georgia having won the last two SEC East titles without extensive contributions from brand new Bulldogs.

[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley #3 and Keith Marshall
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesFreshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 2,144 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns in the 2012 season.
Think back to 2011, when John Jenkins’ emergence at nose guard was one of the leading factors in Georgia’s defensive resurgence that carried the Bulldogs to their first division title since 2005. Or how tailback Isaiah Crowell led the team with 850 rushing yards en route to SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Or how Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley both made their share of big plays at receiver, as did Amarlo Herrera at linebacker.

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Dawgs Snapshot 2013: Shaun McGee 

January, 29, 2013
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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, DawgNation's Radi Nabulsi is breaking down every commitment in the Bulldogs' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Defensive end Shaun McGee, Lawrenceville, Ga./Brookwood | 6-foot-2, 235 pounds

Committed: July 16, 2012

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Coaches' take: Ryne Rankin 

January, 27, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- There were obvious benefits to Ryne Rankin becoming the rare Georgia early enrollee to participate in the Bulldogs’ pre-Christmas bowl practices, but there were drawbacks, as well.


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Rising stars: Five to watch on D 

January, 11, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt said Thursday that he wants his up-and-coming defensive players to ask themselves, “Am I going to be good enough to help this team win a championship?” as they work toward playing bigger roles in 2013.

There’s no question that if the Bulldogs return to the SEC championship game for a third consecutive year, those defensive players will have made enormous strides to get them there. They return every key offensive player except receivers Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, but lose 12 important defenders.

So let’s take a quick look at five key players who will lead the rebuilding effort for Georgia’s defense this fall -- and then three more to watch for good measure.


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Bulldogs plan to remain among elite 

January, 11, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- As Mark Richt turns the page from one season to the next, Georgia’s coach insists that his expectations will not change this fall.

The Bulldogs lose 12 key defensive players from a team that finished fifth in the final Associated Press poll and fourth in the USA Today Coaches Poll -- the third-best finish for a Richt-coached Georgia team in both polls -- but Richt said he still expects his team to rank among the national elite.

“We plan on being that. We hope to be that. We’ve got to earn that,” Richt said Thursday afternoon on his season-wrapup teleconference.

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ATHENS, Ga. -- This won’t be the most crucial offseason of Todd Grantham’s relatively brief time at Georgia -- that honor goes to 2010, when he started installing his 3-4 scheme shortly after joining Mark Richt’s staff in January -- but it might be the one with the most roster uncertainty.

The Bulldogs will lose 11 key players off its 2012 defense, and that number could grow to 12 if junior nose guard Kwame Geathers declares for the NFL draft, so spring practice will feature major competition within every defensive position group.

“I kind of put them up on the board the other day and we’ve got some talented guys. It’s just a matter of developing them and working them and filtering it,” Grantham said. “Our depth is going to be better than it’s been the last couple of years, but it’s going to be young. So there’s a little bit at every spot.”

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Position scouting report: ILB 

December, 25, 2012
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Ramik WilsonRadi Nabulsi/ESPN.comSophomore linebacker Ramik Wilson has shown he's ready for a bigger role on the Georgia defense.
Editor’s note: Over the next several weeks, we’ll take a look at each position on Georgia’s depth chart and project how it might look in the future. Today we examine Georgia’s inside linebackers:

Current two-deep depth chart:
Alec Ogletree (Jr.), Christian Robinson (Sr.)
Amarlo Herrera (So.), Michael Gilliard (Sr.)

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Bulldogs look to wrap up Huskers' run

December, 19, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Stats don’t lie -- and in this case, the stats say that Georgia has not defended the run well this season.

After surrendering 300-plus rushing yards in each of the last three games, Georgia (11-2) dropped to 77th nationally in run defense with an average of 177.8 yards per game. But while they can’t dispute that Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech and Alabama all topped the 300-yard mark, the Bulldogs insist that those numbers are somewhat deceptive.

Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech, after all, typically run the ball on nearly every down in their option offensive sets. And Alabama also boasts a particularly powerful running game with a veteran offensive line and two star tailbacks in Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. So some Georgia defenders are quick to discount any notion that the Bulldogs are weak against the run.

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About Them Dawgs: Amarlo Herrera

December, 19, 2012
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Amarlo HerreraKim Klement/US PresswireAmarlo Herrera was one of Georgia's top tacklers in 2012.
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at linebacker Amarlo Herrera.

No. 52 Amarlo Herrera
Sophomore/Inside linebacker
67 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT

Role in 2012: After playing considerably as a freshman, Herrera ranked among the Bulldogs’ best run-stoppers from his inside linebacker spot as a sophomore.

The good: A sure and physical tackler, Herrera played a key role throughout the season, but was particularly valuable early in the fall when starter Alec Ogletree was serving a four-game suspension. Herrera started four more times after Ogletree’s return and ranked fourth on the team in tackles -- including a season-high 11 against South Carolina.

The bad: Herrera was inconsistent at times in pass coverage -- although yes, he had the team's only interception return for a touchdown (against Florida Atlantic) -- which cleared the way for Christian Robinson to take the field on third downs and in other passing situations. The sophomore was fairly quiet down the stretch, totaling just six tackles in the final four games after ranking near the top of the team’s tackles list for most of the fall.

Crystal ball: With seniors Robinson and Mike Gilliard -- and most likely draft-eligible junior Ogletree -- departing after the season, Herrera immediately moves into a leadership role in a couple of weeks. He will be the only inside linebacker with significant experience and Georgia’s coaches will certainly count on him in the coming months to help a group of newcomers make the adjustment from high school to college football.

About Them Dawgs: Christian Robinson

December, 18, 2012
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at linebacker Christian Robinson.

No. 45 Christian Robinson
Senior/Inside linebacker
44 tackles, 6.5 TFL

Role in 2012: Robinson mostly contributed in third-down situations -- although he played a much greater role in defending the option offenses of Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech at the end of the season.

The good: The senior mostly had a quiet season until the final two weeks against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech. He tallied half of his season total for tackles (44) in those two games alone -- 13 against Georgia Tech and nine against Georgia Southern -- and four tackles for a loss. Otherwise, he typically played on third downs while Amarlo Herrera and Michael Gilliard alternated alongside Alec Ogletree on first and second downs.

The bad: Robinson is the first to admit that he isn’t Georgia’s most physically gifted linebacker -- and that was a key reason why he lost playing time to Herrera and Gilliard after opening 2011 as a starter -- instead having to rely on smarts and preparation to get his job done. There were times where opponents exploited that shortcoming with quicker receivers or backs, but by and large he played his role effectively.

Crystal ball: Although he plans to eventually become a football coach just like his father, Robinson hasn’t given up on the idea of playing professional football. He was invited to participate in a postseason all-star game -- the Raycom Bowl in Montgomery, Ala. -- along with teammates Gilliard, Cornelius Washington and Abry Jones. One way or another, he has a promising future in the sport, whether it’s on the field or on the sidelines coaching.

Rankin an especially early enrollee 

December, 14, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Ryne Rankin has been planning to early enroll as a college football player since eighth grade. But the linebacker prospect plans to get an even bigger jump on his future Georgia teammates who plan to begin college in January.

Rankin traveled to Athens on Thursday with plans of participating in the on-campus practices with the Bulldogs as they prepare for a Jan. 1 date with Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.


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