The Rebels have been trying to rebuild their defensive line since the Landshark defense took the college football world by storm in 2014 and 2015, helping Ole Miss to back-to-back wins over Alabama and a Sugar Bowl title.
And after names like Josiah Coatney and Benito Jones exhausted their eligibility and Charles Wiley entered the transfer portal, new defensive line coach Deke Adams is working to bring back that edge up front.
Well, who knew all he had to do was look up. Figuratively of course.
Tavius Robinson, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound defensive lineman from the University of Guelph in Ontario has announced his intentions to leave Canuck Country for Oxford, Miss. to play SEC football, as first reported by the Ole Miss Spirit’s Yancy Porter.
His decision and timeline was amplified when Canada’s OUA announced that their 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19 therefore wherever he chose to go, he would be immediately eligible. Robinson chose the Rebels over several notable Power 5 programs. He sent out film to tons of schools and Ohio State, Michigan, Washington State, and Nebraska were all interested, but it was Ole Miss that won out in the end.
The newest member of Adams’ defensive line prepped at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute before attending Guelph where he finished the 2019 season with 39 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks for the 7-3 Gryphons.
Prior to the University of Guelph, Robinson played just seven games in his final campaign at GCVI, making 30 tackles, collecting six sacks, and forcing two fumbles.
How does he fit in?
Well, he’s 6-foot-8, so Robinson brings a sizable edge presence that the Rebels literally have not seen. At a position where the Rebels lack depth, the Ontario native brings raw physicality that will need to be groomed into an SEC-caliber player under Adams and the co-defensive coordinator duo of DJ Durkin and Chris Partridge.
Robinson, while playing against Canadian-level opponents, was dominant off the ball. He is quick out of his stance, gets upfield with authority and uses his long strides to beat tackles around the edge, or blow by them through the B gaps. When he gets in the backfield, even if the play gets past him, he works back to the ball and lays the wood.
It will be interesting to see how his game translates to the highest level of American football, but Robinson does a good job of keeping his weight balanced on his frame, staying low at the line of scrimmage and simply overpowering his offensive counterpart. He also played primarily out of a two-point stance with the Gryphons, which speaks to his ability to be versatile across the line.
He will need to refine his pass rush and work on keeping a wide base against the run game, but Robinson has good lateral movement that the coaching staff can mold into a more technical, skill-forward defensive end. In addition, he will benefit from time with strength coach Wilson Love in the weight room, putting on the size needed to match his height in the SEC.
Overall, Robinson is a project player that will pay off in immediate depth at a shallow position. His transfer could reward with him becoming a firm rotational starter on passing downs later in his career, if he takes the time to bulk up and learn under one of the best defensive staffs in the nation.