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August 5, 2012
Some matches are made for one another.
Carolina senior Gene Robinson and the new hybrid position on UNC's defense appear to be one of those.
"With the RAM spot, I'll be closer to the line of scrimmage," Robinson said, "flying around, just being loose. No worries over the top. I'm just flying around."
He will be a little linebacker, some defensive back and maybe even along the line.
"It's exciting for him," Coach Larry Fedora said. "He can blitz. He can cover; he can drop in the zones. He can do a lot of different things. Within the defense itself, he and the Mike linebacker get to exchange a lot of things. He's excited about doing that with [Kevin] Reddick."
Eagerness is one thing, but ability and physical attributes will ultimately determine a large role in how effective a player ultimate becomes.
Robinson has the full complement of intelligence and physical attributes to get the job done.
"He brings some wisdom and he brings some experience to the position," Fedora said, "not necessarily the experience of playing this position, but the experience of playing.
"That is huge. He's been out there in the battle when the bullets were flying. He knows how to react. So now learning the position is an easy thing for him. If you talk to Gene, he probably feels pretty comfortable right now."
No doubt, Robinson said. He made sure he would be by studying hard this summer.
"I feel like a vet now because I know the plays," Robinson said. "[First two days of practice] we put in plays, but I already knew them because I sat down and I knew what position I was playing; I learned what to do.
"My next thing is to learn what the whole defense does."
From the time he was a freshman, Robinson has proven to be a player who loves the game and the contact. When he says flying around, he means finishing with a big hit more often than not.
This new position will provide him with many more chances to do just that.
"Just being able to make plays," Robinson said. "I like forced-fumbles. I like being close to the line of scrimmage."
This philosophy extends to the entire defense, but Robinson has earned a particularly special spot for making things happen.
"We have more speed on the field," Robinson said. "We're getting it done. We're blitzing; we're attacking. I like to attack, keep the offense on their heels."
The hybrid positions on the new defense and their possibilities are not theory. Last season at Southern Mississippi, at which Fedora was then the head coach, a player named Jamie Collins used a hybrid position to finish tied for second on the team with 98 total tackles.
Collins made 19.5 tackles for losses, 6.5 of which were quarterback sacks. He also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.
Robinson is capable of turning this new position into big numbers as well. His time in the weight room shows with his thick, solid build, and he has always proven to be a good athlete.
He has every intention of using his experience, his skill and his physical attributes to get the most from his senior season.
"It's the last go-around, but it's exciting to be in this system," Robinson said. "I get to run around and have fun. Everyday is fun for us.
"But I was just talking with the boys, how fast it went. It seemed last yesterday I was at picture day for the first time, coming out of [the tunnel] with chills on my arms. I'm a college football player now. I'm one of the old ones."
The excitement for what is coming shows in his voice when he talks about it.
"I can't wait for the first game, a packed stadium with every jumping up and down," Robinson said. "I'm ready to run out."