NEW BRITAIN - Shawn Robinson has a way of making it look easy.
Lined up in his familiar spot on the field - six yards behind the line of scrimmage - the New Britain running back scanned the field and took the handoff, soon opening up a five-yard gap between himself and the closest defender.
It was a scene that played out plenty of times throughout the football team’s season in 2017, when he rushed for over 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns and nearly eight yards a carry, and one the senior wants to replicate this year.
But even for a tailback who had the success he did, Robinson always feels like he has to prove himself in practice. Playing time is earned.
“I had a back last year in Muhamed [Codjoe] who never let me feel easy,” Robinson said. “He always made me want to earn it and always be like, ‘I’m better than you.’ I still don’t feel like I have a spot. This year, it’s me and Kaiyon [Gunn] and all we do is battle in practice. We push each other, coach each other and make each other better.”
Listed at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds, Robinson eclipsed the 100-yard mark seven times last season. Still, there were some areas of his game the senior wanted to improve on heading into the year to make sure he plays at his highest level to help the Hurricanes break out of their three consecutive 5-5 slump.
“Endurance,” Robinson said. “I cut down on the cookies. I can’t bust an 80-yard run and get caught from behind like I did last year. I had a couple of those. But it’s my last year and I want to do something for this program.”
It could be some tough production to match. While Robinson was virtually an unknown commodity heading into the 2017 season, he will be one of the focal points opposing defenses will be trying to stop and make New Britain more one dimensional.
That’s just fine with some of his teammates, particularly the offensive line, which the group said is more than up for the challenge.
“I expect Shawn to do what he does, find lanes,” senior lineman Devon Bishop said. “He’s a real big running back, but a shifty running back. He respects [the offensive line] and we respect him. He does his job.”
The Hurricanes will lean toward using a number of running backs this season, as they did with Robinson, Codjoe and Gunn last year, with Robinson still getting a bulk of the work. Head coach Tebucky Jones likes what he’s seen from both the returning starter as well as the rest of the group leading up to Week 1 against Conard.
“I think we should do really well in that spot,” Jones said. “On offense, you always want a good running game. It helps open up the passing game.”
Throughout the summer, both in camp and scrimmages, Robinson was able to do just that. Now, he’s ready to do the same when the games count.
“I don’t look at the running back position as just glory and touchdowns,” he said. “I got hit quite a few times last year and got up and did it over and over again. I made sure my team knew I was there for them. You have to have someone willing to take the hit and do the dirty work for the team.”