Auburn running back Jovon Robinson isn’t lacking confidence.
Robinson memorably described releasing his inner beast in a win over Texas A&M in his only interview with the media last season.
“I can truly say game-in, and game-out, our offensive line been solid, put me in the backfield great things can happen,” Robinson said.
While the running back spent the first half of the season buried on the Tigers’ bench, he denied it related to his attitude. Robinson attributed his absence strictly to the ankle injury he suffered in the season-opener against Louisville.
Questions over his demeanor faded into the background when he rushed for 619 yards and three touchdowns in Auburn’s final six games. The junior college transfer accounted for a third of Auburn’s runs of 20 yards or more playing in less than half the team’s games.
Robinson came into camp with his sense of bravado intact.
“My goals, personally, I have high goals and high expectations for myself,” Robinson said last week. “I want to be the next 1,000-yard rusher. I like that title. I’m definitely looking forward to starting off the season right, playing Clemson, starting off the season on a high note.”
Auburn’s coaches are content letting Jovon be Jovon because they see an increased focus level from the talented back this spring.
“I think he's more engaged right now than what he was,” Auburn running backs coach Tim Horton said. “When he first got here, he was very much a loner. You're seeing him more engaged, whether it's in the locker room or in the meeting room or out on the field. I think that's good.”
Horton, who recruited Robinson while on the staff at Arkansas, said the running back continues to mature in positive ways.
“I think he's probably a little more conscientious now then when he was when he first got here,” Horton said. “He understands, 'Hey, I've got to practice and prepare for this in order to perform.’ He's doing those things well now that he might not have done as much when he first got here.”
Robinson is battling for the starting spot with fellow running back Roc Thomas. The coaches have rotated the backs throughout the team’s nine spring practices. Robinson was with the first team offense during an open viewing period at Tuesday’s practice.
Both running backs scored touchdowns in a live scrimmage Saturday.
Last week, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee called the running back competition one of the better ones this spring. Horton echoed Lashlee’s sentiment Tuesday and said Robinson’s stock is on the rise.
“I like our motto this season, and it's 'Earn It.' I think that's been good for Jovon,” Horton said. “He's going to have to earn it. Same way with Roc. You're going to have to earn you're playing time, you're going to have to earn your carries, you're going to have to earn victories.”