Slipping past the linebackers and fading toward the back pylon former Alcoa tight end Tyler Robinson was overlooked by the Tennessee secondary and caught his first touchdown as a Kentucky Wildcat.
It was not the first time the Big Orange had overlooked the Mr. Football winner.
“(Tennessee) wanted to move me to center and I showed them I am good enough to play tight end in the SEC,” Robinson said. “It worked out for the best and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Last season’s Kentucky trip to Tennessee was Robinson’s first start for the Wildcats, and, through getting into the action early and often as a true freshman, he learned quickly the transition from high school to the SEC was no cake walk.
Robinson will begin his second season in Kentucky when the Wildcats meeting Western Kentucky in the season opener for both Thursday night at L.P. Field in Nashville.
Kickoff is 9:15 p.m.
ESPNU will have the broadcast.
“Everyone you go against is just as good as or better than you, so technique is critical,” said Robinson of play in the SEC. “A lot of times in high school you can rely on being stronger or more athletic than other guys. Here, you can’t do that.
“Playing at Alcoa prepared me for a lot; the practices are structured like college practices. I owe a lot of where I am today to them.”
Not every snap Robinson took as a freshman went as seamlessly as the touchdown reception against the Vols.
“I would say my welcome to college football moment came against Florida,” he said. “We threw a pick and I was running downfield, and this big defensive tackle just hit me real hard. I didn’t even see him.”
Kentucky lost its quarterback, running back and both starting receivers from last year’s offense, meaning Robinson’s role will likely become more significant this season. The Wildcats have a tight end corps they feel good about and could show a lot of two tight end looks because of that depth.
“As a unit we’ve got a lot of talent, and, with us losing those other guys, we should get a lot more looks than we got last year,” Robinson said. “With two tight ends we can do a lot more, different things with blocking and formations that will confuse the defense and help us have success.”
For Robinson, the plan for the season is simple.
“I just want to be a producer,” he said. “I want to produce for my team. I don’t want to make any mistakes, and when they call on me I want to perform. As a team, we want to win the SEC. That’s what we strive to do every day.”
A three-time All-State selection and Mr. Football winner at Alcoa, Robinson said he’s focused on achieving in the classroom as well as producing on the field. Balancing the hectic schedule of a Division I football player is not an easy task.
“The biggest challenge for me has been developing good time management skills,” Robinson said. “It is difficult, but you just have to be focused and be disciplined. I’m majoring in elementary education. I’d really like to be an elementary school or middle school PE teacher.
“I always liked being around kids and teaching them. So I figure why not do something where I can teach kids something I love.”