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PENN STATE Robinson has sights set on QB position



Published: Sat, April 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



In his first three seasons he's been a quarterback, running back and wideout.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson leaned back against the railing circling the Beaver Stadium field and grinned as a warm spring sun beat down on his face.

While he hasn't been named the starting signal-caller for the Nittany Lions, Robinson seems content so far this spring in Happy Valley.

"Things are going fine, man," said Robinson, a senior who has seen time at quarterback, running back and wideout in his first three seasons at Penn State. "And [Coach] Joe [Paterno] is fired up. He's an older guy but he's very, very fired up about this season."

Currently No. 1 quarterback

The one-time jack-of-all-trades has been concentrating on quarterback this spring, leading the first-team offense. "That does something for your confidence," said Robinson, who has thrown for six touchdowns and 11 interceptions over his first three years.

Still, Paterno, entering his 40th season as Penn State's coach, hasn't chosen a starter, meaning that strong-armed sophomore Anthony Morelli might still be in the mix.

Robinson says he's ready for the pressure should he get the nod.

"I understand what fans want," he said. "You can't have a bad game."

That's especially true if Penn State hopes to improve on a 4-7 record last season (2-6 Big Ten), when the Nittany Lions finished 110th out of 117 Division I-A teams in scoring offense.

Some new faces

Incoming freshman receiver Derrick Williams has already enrolled in school and has been practicing, impressing teammates with his speed and quickness. Several defensive players like Ethan Kilmer and Tim Shaw have gotten looks on offense as coaches experiment with the lineup.

Robinson, with the encouragement of roommate Alan Zemaitis, a starting cornerback, said he decided over the winter to lose weight in order to increase his speed. He lost 10 to 15 pounds and now weighs about 217.

"When I first met him, he was 240 pounds, he looked like a little fat boy, a lot of baby fat," Zemaitis joked. "I told him lose weight and imagine how fast you can be at 214. He's so fast right now, I feel like he's running at a different speed."

He'll need that speed in practice to elude Zemaitis and the rest of a talented Penn State defense that figures to be just as stingy as last year, when they did not allow more than 21 points in a game all season.

Nine starters are returning.

Zemaitis, a second-team All-Big Ten selection in the last two seasons, says that familiarity will allow him to take more risks on the field and go for game-changing turnovers.

"I want to play with a sense of fearlessness, take the appropriate risks to make plays and mainly hold up my 1/11th of the field," Zemaitis said.

Zemaitis and junior linebacker Paul Posluszny figure to be two of the biggest leaders on the defense that surrendered only 15.3 points a game last year, the fewest since 1991 (13.9 points-per-game allowed).

"We are more comfortable and we can feel each other on the field. We will better together as a unit and now we are concentrating on being the best," Posluszny said.

Spring practice concludes with the annual Blue-White game on April 23 at Beaver Stadium.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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