Ty Robinson was a big recruiting win for Nebraska in 2019. The 4-star lineman from Gilbert, Arizona was the fourth-highest rated recruit in the class according to the Hail Varsity Composite, second behind only Nick Henrich on the defensive side of the ball.
Yet like most of his classmates, Robinson redshirted as the Huskers had plenty of experience returning on the defensive line. Even so, the 6-foot-6, 315-pound lineman got the chance to see the field late in the season thanks to the redshirt rule.
“Ty Robinson, it means a lot to him as a big-time recruit to still get his feet wet and play,” defensive line coach Tony Tuioti said on the first day of spring. “We came up with a plan to utilize his time wisely. He has a chance to be a special player. He’s very business-like and tries to learn as much as he can.”
He’s officially credited with playing in three games, though I didn’t notice any defensive snaps in the season finale against Iowa. Robinson played 14 snaps against Wisconsin and nine against Maryland. He didn’t record any stats so much as a tackle, but he did show some flashes of why Tuioti thinks he can be special as well as some areas in which he need to grow.
Robinson lined up as the nose tackle on 19 of his 23 snaps. He started as the left defensive end on three plays and was part of a heavy goal line package as an interior lineman on the other one.
Robinson made his collegiate debut against the Badgers, and it wasn’t in garbage time. He checked in for the first time late in the first quarter in a 7-7 tie. On his first snap, Wisconsin got the ball to a receiver on a jet sweep, so Robinson wasn’t involved in the play from his nose tackle spot. On his second snap, he came very close to making a game-changing play.
On first and 10, Robinson (No. 99) lined up across from Rimington Award winner Tyler Biadasz. Wisconsin called a play for star running back Jonathan Taylor to carry it up the middle.
Robinson took on Biadasz and gave up a little ground, about a yard or two, as Taylor took the handoff.
Robinson saw Taylor coming, though and fought to get off his block as the Badgers sealed off an alley for the back to run through.
He managed to get himself free in time to get his arms around Taylor. In fact, he had a hand on the football and tried to rip it free.
However, Taylor managed to hold onto the ball and Robinson wasn’t able to bring him down. Robinson fell to the ground and Taylor carried the ball another 12 yards before Lamar Jackson finally dragged him to the turf after a gain of 19.
There’s little shame in missing a tackle on Taylor; plenty of other Huskers did the same in this game. Still, Robinson did a good job of putting himself in position to make a play. Perhaps with another year of strength and conditioning under his belt he’ll be able to complete it next time.
Robinson got washed out of the play on the goal-line stand, but for the most part he did a pretty good job of holding his ground, especially for a teenager.
This next play came in the second quarter with Nebraska trailing 24-14. This time Robinson lined up as the left defensive end with an outside linebacker flanking him to the left.
Robinson took on the right guard and held his ground (notice where the rest of the Huskers are in relation to the line of scrimmage) as Taylor looked to run around the right end.
Robinson tried to disengage in order to make a tackle attempt as Taylor ran by, but whether he just didn’t have his feet under him or if the guard had a bit of jersey, Robinson wasn’t able to get his hands on the running back in time.
To add insult to injury, Robinson’s attempt to get to Taylor left him in a compromised position as the guard gave him a nice shove while he was off-balance and put him on his back.
Taylor broke two tackles and picked 16 yards on the play. Once again, Robinson was close to stopping the play before it really got started and he just missed.
Robinson played one more snap at end, though his job was more to eat up blocks than make a play himself as Nebraska ran an end-linebacker stunt which was designed to get Alex Davis free as he looped around Robinson. Davis got stuck though and Robinson ended up going up against two blockers, and the play went the other direction as quarterback Jack Coan found a receiver for 12 yards.
Robinson didn’t get a ton of chances to rush the passer as Wisconsin either ran the ball or made a quick throw most of the time while he was on the field. He got a chance to pin his ears back early in the third quarter, though.
On second and 8 with Nebraska down 27-14, Erik Chinander called a tackle-end stunt.
The left end crashed inside while Robinson looped around behind from his nose tackle spot. The maneuver got Robinson matched up one-on-one with the right tackle.
Robinson gave the tackle a good push and then pulled free to chase after Coan as the quarterback left the pocket. However, Ben Stille – the right defensive end – broke through the line a bit faster and put the heat on Coan.
With Stille in his lap and Robinson closing in, Coan threw the ball away to set up third and 8.
Stille got credit for the hurry, but it was a good rep for Robinson as well. It also showed his versatility as he started inside but ended up outside and did well against the tackle.
On the next drive, Robinson also showed off some hustle. On second and 4, Robinson lined up at nose tackle and took on the right guard, holding his ground better than anyone else. However, he wasn’t able to shed the block in time to make the tackle. He didn’t give up on the play, though, pursuing it 17 yards down the field and diving on top of the pile as it was hitting the turf.
Robinson got one more drive after that against the Badgers and held his own pretty well for the most part.
The Maryland game was a completely different story for Robinson as he was dubbed or chipped on six of his nine snaps. He did a pretty good job of holding his ground one-on-one, but he showed he wasn't ready to take on double teams as a freshman as he got washed out of the play or neutralized on most of those snaps.
One of those double-teams did allow a teammate to make a play, however. Tow linemen took on Robinson and knocked him back, but linebacker Joseph Johnson plugged the whole and forced a fumble which Nebraska recovered.
On his penultimate play of the game, Robinson showed excellent get-off as he timed the snap very well. Once again, the center and guard double-teamed him, though, but instead of dying on the block he bounced off it and looped around the outside. The quarterback got the ball out before he could get there to threaten, but it was still a good effort by Robinson.
His last play certainly wasn’t a highlight, though it wasn’t his fault. First walk-on Fyn Anderson (lined up at end with Robinson at tackle) got shoved into Robinson, and after Robinson got free a Maryland lineman latched on and didn’t let go as Javon Leake streaked right up the middle of the field for a 58-yard touchdown, Maryland’s only score of the game.
Nebraska didn’t need Ty Robinson in 2019, and he probably wasn’t ready to play a big role, but he was a perfect example of the benefit of the four-game redshirt rule. He got a chance to play real snaps against one of the best offensive lines in the country in Wisconsin, and that experience should serve him well as he looks to become a bigger part of the defensive line rotation in 2020.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.