Those fears were allayed at the outset of spring camp thanks to the emergence of sophomore Tielor Robinson. A backup at running back last season, Robinson saw action in all 13 games and finished third on the squad with 91 rushing yards. He also displayed soft hands out of the Black Knights’ backfield, registering 12 receptions.
Robinson boasts an outstanding blend of power and quickness and promises to receive playing time at both running back and fullback in Ross’ new two-back system.
“Fullback was a great concern entering spring practice,” Ross states. “But Tielor Robinson really stepped up this spring. He is a very good football player and will see playing time at running back and fullback. He is a 220-pounder that runs hard and has good speed for his size. He has excellent hands and is a very aggressive blocker. I’ve been very pleased with him. I think he’s going to be a ‘big-time’ player for us.”
In an effort to help bolster the overall numbers of his squad, Bobby Ross adopted a page from former head coach Jim Young’s program-building manual and held open tryouts within the Corps of Cadets. In addition to boosting the sheer volume of players on his roster, Ross was hoping to uncover a few players that might help fill holes on his squad. The legendary mentor may have discovered one of those hidden “gems” in senior Gary Whidden. A “walk-on” with no previous varsity experience, Whidden provided much-needed depth at the fullback position this spring. He features an excellent burst at the line of scrimmage and demonstrated the skill level and toughness necessary to contribute this fall. Sophomore Jacob Miraldi rounds out the three-deep at the position after spending last season as a member of the Black Knights’ scout team. Miraldi is another hard-nosed “grinder” who blocks with a fury and may see significant playing time during goal-line situations.
“We’ve had some ‘walk-ons’ that have come along and done well for us at fullback,” Ross offers. “Whidden and Miraldi improved throughout the spring. All of our backs have decent size. None of them are light.”
Two other “walk-ons,” B.J. Laney and Geoffrey Whitfield, also contributed during the spring and could factor into the mix during preseason camp.