Tide's defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson makes big impact as a freshman

Anniston StarOctober 16, 2013 

Bowl Game: Music City (Monday, 3:15 p.m. ET)

Location: Nashville, Tenn.; LP Field (69,143)

Matchup: Ole Miss (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

Analysis: Both teams limp in to this game, as neither ended the regular season the way they would have liked. Ole Miss dropped its previous two games, while Georgia Tech enters having lost two of its past three. But there is this historical tidbit which favors the SEC member: The Rebels have won their last five bowl appearances; the Yellow Jackets, on the other hand, have lost seven of their past eight postseason outings. Take Ole Miss in a close one.

Black picks: Rebels 31, Yellow Jackets 28

TUSCALOOSA -- Defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson is the latest true freshman to make a splash for Alabama's defense.

Robinson is the only true freshman defender who has played in all six of the Crimson Tide's games. He has worked his way into the Tide's rotation, registering a start against Georgia State two weeks ago when junior Jeoffrey Pagan nursed his shoulder injury.

Tide coach Nick Saban raved about Robinson during the preseason as one of the younger players who could have an impact and he hasn't disappointed his coach.

Robinson was named one of the Tide's coaching staff players of the week after having six tackles and two sacks in Alabama's win over Kentucky.

He leads the team in both tackles for loss with five and sacks with four, which is tied for fifth in the SEC. He's tied for sixth on the team with 17 total tackles and also has has two quarterback hurries.

So what makes Robinson so good?

"He's a big, powerful guy who does a really goof job of pushing the pocket in the middle, and that's something that we really need," Saban said. "He's fit a need for us, and he's done a nice job of working hard to improve. I think some of the older players on the team have enhanced his development with their leadership and the example that they've set and how they've sort of adopted him and helped him to continue to improve."

Added linebacker Trey DePriest, "Consistency, really. Him playing the blocks like he does and getting off of them. He's got a real good motor."

Robinson's development helps the entire team, particularly the secondary.

"We don't have to cover as long …," safety Vinnie Sunseri said. "Getting pressure up front really helps us out. When the quarterback can't see or isn't standing still it helps us out in coverage because he doesn't get a clean look at the coverage."

Coming out of Arlington Heights High in Forth Worth, Texas, the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Robinson played both offensive and defensive line. He was considered one of the elite defensive linemen in the 2013 signing class.

He was a rated a five-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals.com and Scout.com, who ranked him the nation's No. 1 defensive tackle and fifth-best player at any position.

Robinson chose the Tide over Texas and had offers from Southern California, LSU, Arkansas and Florida State.

"What we saw in him was a very big, athletic guy that had tremendous potential," Saban said. "We didn't know how he would develop. We're very pleased with the way he's developed.

"I think he's played better each and every week as he's gained confidence in what's expected of him and what his assignments are and plays faster."

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