We were very fortunate to be approached by Seattle Seahawks starting fullback Michael Robinson to guest write for The Meat Locker. Robinson was the former starting quarterback for the Penn State Nittany Lions. In 2005, his senior season, Robinson led the Nittany Lions to an Orange Bowl victory against Florida State and finished 5th on the Heisman Trophy ballot. Robinson was selected by the San Fransisco 49ers in the 2006 NFL Draft as a running back/fullback. Robinson gives a great perspective on what it took for him to make on make the rare transition that he did at the professional level. A special thank you to Michael Robinson for taking the time to share this experience with The Meat Locker. We wish Robinson luck in 2011 season as the starting fullback for the NFC West Champion Seattle Seahawks.
January 4, 2006 around 12:30am, I felt on top of the world just winning the Orange Bowl against Florida State and the next stop for me was the National Football League. There was only problem or area of small concern—what position would I play? Media and fans weren’t the only ones wanting to know the answer to that question; I wanted to know as well. I felt like I worked too hard the last 5 years not to give myself a shot to play quarterback, but I never was opposed to changing position. My dream has always been to play in the National Football League, not to play quarterback in the National Football League. Fortunately, I was able to work out at quarterback leading up to the 2006 draft, along with other positions. At my pro day I first worked at quarterback then had certain teams want to see me at running back, some at receiver, I was even asked to back pedal! I didn’t know what position I would get drafted as. For a young guy, even doubt sets in like not getting drafted because people thought of you as a project. I never would have thought fullback would be my position when it was all said and done. Interestingly enough, Joe Paterno once told me I could play running back in the NFL or even fullback. Then he went on to say whatever position a coach would want me to play I could be successful.
Getting drafted as a running back to the 49ers back in 2006 was truly a blessing but also presented some special challenges like practicing everyday in a totally new position. I mean I had played running back and receiver in college but only on game days. It was rare I that I would get a lot of reps at other positions other than quarterback so most times the first time I ran a play would be on Saturdays. First and foremost the physicality of practice and game day had totally changed for me. Going from one of the least physical positions to one of the most requires a person who really loves the game of football. In all honesty, I have never been one to shy away from contact and that mentality made the transition from quarterback to running back a lot easier. It has also made the transition from running back to fullback a lot easier. The latter transition was naturally easier because I had already been in the league for a few years. Mike Martz was the first coordinator to put me at fullback. Martz told me the skills that I possessed would make a great fullback. He didn’t believe in the 250+lbs fullbacks. He wanted a guy who could catch the ball, run routes and block out of the backfield. I believe the fullback position is changing a little. Sort of like outside linebackers/defensive ends changed in the 90’s. They became more athletic and rangier making life for a tackle or running back a living hell. Look at guys like myself, Chris Cooley (Washington Redskins), Delanie Walker (San Francisco 49ers), Marcel Reese (Oakland Raiders) and Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Guys that can run, catch, block and in most cases are forces on special teams. In most offenses these guys are called the “F” position. It can be a fullback, a second tight end and in some cases another tailback. How does a defense match up? Constant battles team coordinators go through every game.
This past year with the Seahawks has been the first year I have started at fullback all year and it definitely was the best learning experience I could have gotten. I felt very comfortable in the scheme and it was a pleasure blocking for Marshawn, Justin and Leon. I feel as professional athletes it is not only our duty to the game of football, but also to the millions of youngsters emulating us, to keep improving every year and to compete at the highest level possible. Hopefully we can get this labor situation worked out to avoid work stoppage because it would be a shame. It would be a shame to deny all of our fans some of the most excitement of the year—FOOTBALL SEASON!