Trenton Robinson had a great spring and is set to fly sky high in 2011.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Trenton Robinson had a great spring and is set to fly sky high in 2011. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

 

 

Trenton Robinson has jumped onto the scene, becoming one of Michigan State’s most trusted defenders.

 

The Michigan native made his biggest splash last season, starting 12 games at free safety and appearing in a total of 13 of them. He was fourth on the team in tackles with 76 (career high) and was named second-team All-Big Ten by the conference’s coaches. His finest performance was arguably against Michigan, a game which earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors.

 

Some things still irk him and his teammates, though. One example is the blowout loss to Alabama on national television on New Year’s Day – a loss in which many critics questioned whether Michigan State was ever as good as their record showed. Now, it drives the team without even having to be mentioned.

 

“You have a good season like that and you really get to see what it’s like to be an elite team, and you play a team that is that good,” Robinson said. “They could have easily won the national championship. It haunts me, but it’s making me better. I’m sure it’s making everyone on the team better.

 

“For the young guys, for them to get to see that – that would be like, I don’t ever want to be in that position to have a good season like that and lose like that.”

 

Robinson is lining up every day against seniors on the offensive side of the ball, including Kirk Cousins, B.J. Cunningham, and Keshawn Martin. Going against one of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks makes everyone better.

 

“(Cousins) is one of the best quarterbacks out there,” Robinson said. “He makes us work all the time because he’s smart, knows our defense to a science. If we move wrong, even if you’re disguising … I don’t know how he does it, but sometimes we’ll come up on a blitz or fake a blitz and he’ll just check. He’ll look right at you and check, and you’ll be like, ‘OK, he got me today.’ He’s real smart, so it’s good.”

 

Now, Robinson is one of the elders of the defense with players like Greg Jones, Eric Gordon, and Chris L. Rucker having graduated.

 

There are some new faces in the crowd with some former red-shirt players finally getting a taste of the action. And with the disparity between the older and younger players, as well as the departure of good Spartans over the past few years, leadership is important to assure everyone is on the same page.

 

“Everybody on defense has been stepping up, because Greg was a great leader; he led by example,” Robinson noted. “Every time he got on the field he went hard. Every time he’s on the field he’s moving fast, he’s running fast to the ball, and I think that inspired a lot of guys because our whole defense runs to the ball.”

 

Now it’s just time for the Spartans to put a complete season together, from start to finish.

 

They got off to a blistering start last season and ended the season in embarrassing fashion in the bowl game – an area where the team has struggled during the Dantonio era.

 

Playing an Ohio State team without Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor is a good way to start conference play, and getting over the hump against teams like Iowa is something they want to build on. I didn’t even mention that Nebraska is a new foe for others to gameplan for in the Big Ten.

 

It will be a bigger challenge than last season because the Spartans have a true target on their back after last season’s run.

 

“If you’re a football player, this is the type of schedule you want to have,” Robinson said with an imaginary chip on his shoulder. “You get to play against, they say, the best teams out there. You’re a competitor, you get to play against the best people in you’re league … we’re excited.”

 

Spartan fans are excited as well to see how the defense performs after a pretty good season on that side of the ball.