|« Sam Houston poised to make run at SLC title||Texas State tunes up for scrimmage »|
Grambling's linebackers hope to set a tone
While the defensive line and defensive back units garnered most of the attention last year on Grambling State’s 12th-ranked defense, one position that posted a solid campaign but flew under the radar was linebacker.
Led by fifth-year linebacker coach and former Grambling State standout Andre Robinson, the unit is poised for big things as they prepare for the upcoming 2008 campaign.
“We’re working on our technique and tightening up our angles,” said Robinson. “We also want to improve on tackling and learning how to shed blocks better.”
With a new defensive coordinator in place and only two scholarship players returning from the 2006 season, the unit entered last season with a lot of question marks.
However, several players emerged as two of the team’s top six tacklers were linebackers. Robinson said his group should be improved with another year of experience in defensive coordinator Cliff Yoshida’s 4-2-5 scheme.
“The difference between this year and last year is that we have another year in the system,” Robinson stated. “They know where they fit in the defensive scheme and that usually leads to a higher level of play.”
Leading the unit are returning middle linebackers Keefe Hall (Houston, Texas) and Derrick Johnson (Monroe). Last season, Hall had a career year with 64 tackles while Johnson posted 24. Also returning for their second season and expected to post solid numbers are Stephen Tripp (Tampa Bay, Fla.) and Toby Mott (Monroe). In addition to the quartet of returnees, several promising newcomers are in camp and have caught Robinson’s eye at times.
Off the field, Robinson plays a big part in the team’s recruiting efforts as he’s responsible for recruiting the city of Birmingham and the state Alabama. A native of Birmingham, Robinson attributes his past relationships and the Grambling name as a big part of why the Tigers continue to recruit well in the city.
“I worked as a high school coach for a long time there (Birmingham) so I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to recruit well there along with several other areas throughout the South. Grambling’s success in attracting athletes from the state goes back a long time so I hope to continue the pipeline.”
By Nick Deriso