The Wesclin football roster says he’s a running back, but everything else says Jason Robinson can play anywhere on the field.
The senior has enough speed to run a leg of the 100-meter relay for the Warrior track team, and at 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, he has the size to be a lineman.
Prior to this season, in fact, he spent the bulk of his high school career at left tackle creating holes, not running through them.
“At the end of the day, when we were deciding how to best put these guys into position to win games, we thought putting the ball into Jason’s hands was a good start,” said third-year head coach Ric Johns. “A lot of people smarter than me were trying to get me to switch him to running back and, what swayed me was watching him in a track meet last year. It finally sunk in that we need to put him at running back.”
That was welcome news to Robinson, but maybe not for the rest of the Cahokia Conference.
So far this season, the big back has carried the ball 91 times for 853 yards — that’s a 9.4 yards-per-carry average — and 11 touchdowns. As a middle linebacker, Robinson also is among team leaders with 32 tackles.
A lot of people smarter than me were trying to get me to switch him to running back and what swayed me was watching him in a track meet last year. It finally sunk in that we need to put him at running back.
Wesclin head coach Ric Johns
He earned BND Athlete of the Week honors in a key, 54-27, conference win over Freeburg Friday. Robinson ran for 252 yards on just 16 carries and had a pair of 13 yards touchdowns in addition to breaking scoring runs of 58 and 66 yards.
“The line really helped me out and we had really good blocking on the perimeter,” Robinson said. “Once I could get into the open field it was a foot race.”
Many of Robinson’s long runs come on a sweep pay the Warriors call 44-rocket, a reference to their fullback’s uniform number. The plays work, Robinson and Johns say, because of the blocking they get from players on the edges, namely Zach Swaim, Cameron Tanuvasa-Lole, and Valentin Avalos.
“People are so focused on stopping Jason at the point of attack, that whenever he can get out to the outside, a lot of times there’s not much left out there to tackle him,” Johns said. “We’re getting great perimeter blocking from some skilled guys who take a lot of pride in their blocking.”
More generally, Robinson credits Wesclin coaches and teammates for helping him transition to a new position.
“I had a lot of good coaching and talked to my teammates about just how to carry the ball the right way,” he said. “The basics, in my opinion, are the most important because you have to protect the football to avoid turnovers because turnovers lose games. The rest is just running.”
15.6 Robinson’s yards-per-carry average in 256-yard rushing performance in win over Freeburg
147 Yards Robinson needs in final two games to reach 1,000 in his first season as a running back
The 4-3 Warriors already have won as many games this year as they have in the three previous seasons combined. With 35 playoff points already and two more weeks to play, one more win could be enough for Wesclin to reach the post season. Wins in the remaining games against Central and Carlyle removes the remaining mystery.
It would be the first time since Robinson started playing football that Wesclin reached the playoffs.
“We’re definitely thinking about the playoffs,” Robinson said. “Central and Carlyle are both really good teams, but we feel like when we play like we can and like we should, we can win those games.
According to Johns, Robinson has drawn interest from Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois, both Division I-FCS programs. Robinson said he also is considering a career in the military.