Robbins ready to run
Jerrick Robbins was a three-way player for Porter Ridge last season, and he would love to add offensive coordinator to his duties as a senior.
If he did call the plays, the offense would quickly become predictable.
“I like having the ball in my hands at all times,” Robbins said. “It’s not realistic, but I wish. I’m the feature back, that’s definite, but I want to be the workhorse.”
Robbins has played tailback, safety and kick returner on a team that has a 27-3 record over the last two seasons.
He rushed for 1,313 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior while sharing the backfield with Union County Player of the Year Chris Duffy, now on scholarship at Charlotte.
In the 4A state championship game last December, a 39-38 loss to New Bern, Robbins carried 19 times for a career-high 175 yards — including a 66-yard touchdown.
Defensively, Robbins started at safety and intercepted four passes in 2012.
Robbins doesn’t anticipate schematic changes under new head coach Greg Neuendorf, but his role is being tweaked.
He said senior Tyler Harrell is starting at safety, while Robbins is at cornerback.
Offensively, Robbins averaged a staggering 10.9 yards per carry last season, but got just 8.6 attempts per game.
He’s expecting a lot more touches now that Duffy wears a college uniform.
“I think we’ll be a little more run heavy this year,” Robbins said. “We’ll probably be in the pistol more and I’ll line up more at receiver it looks like.”
Robbins was shocked when he heard the news that head coach Blair Hardin was taking the Freedom job after five years at Porter Ridge.
He said the Pirates have adjusted to Hardin’s departure, and remain focused.
“We had heard the rumors before so we didn’t think it was true,” Robbins said. “Then when he left it was like ‘dang.’”
Porter Ridge is just two weeks away from holding a minicamp on campus, and the first official practice is Aug. 1.
Robbins has gotten to know his new head coach this summer.
“He’s a good coach,” Robbins said of Neuendorf, who came over from Cox Mill. “He’s a smart guy. ... He’s not really the yelling type like Coach Hardin was. He doesn’t yell at us at all. That might change when the season gets here. I hope so. We kinda miss that.”
Porter Ridge has almost all of its perimeter players back from last year’s 13-2 team, including starting QB Isaiah Hicklin and leading receiver Luke Bayly.
Robbins, Bayly and three or four others will start both ways.
The biggest two-way player is sophomore Drew Lair (6-2, 260), who will start on defense and probably on the offensive line.
Speedster Casey Hardison returns at cornerback and will also line up at receiver, while linebacker Ron Head and defensive linemen Devyn Cunningham are competing for the fullback job.
“Devyn’s a more natural running back, he’s played back there,” Robbins said. “Ron is a head-hunter. He loves to hit.”
Robbins and Hardison are the fastest players on the team.
“He’s going to say he’s the fastest and I’m going to say I’m the fastest,” Robbins said. “So it depends on who you ask.”
Gardner-Webb has asked Robbins to play football on full scholarship.
Ever forthright, Robbins said he was “pumped” to get the offer but isn’t sure if he wants to play college football.
At 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, he questions whether or not his body can be durable on that level.
His first love is baseball, and he’s optimistic a scholarship will come in that sport as well.
“Baseball is a chill sport; I love baseball more than anything,” Robbins said. “I might be too small for college football.”
Robbins also worries about the size of his offensive line.
All five are first-year starters.
“We’re going into a new conferene and our offensive line isn’t that big,” Robbins said. “That might be our problem. Our defense is fast. Nobody can really out-run us. That group last year, they were animals. It’s a lot different now. Last year was more physical than the group we have now.”
Robbins believes if the offensive line matures and meshes, it could mean a third straight trip to the 4A state championship game.
“The atmosphere’s a little different now but we’ve been doing the same things this offseason,” Robbins said. “We have no doubt we can get back there.”
Porter Ridge’s 2013
Aug. 23^Mount Tabor
Aug. 30^at Piedmont
Sept. 13^at South Meck
Sept. 20^at Sun Valley
Oct. 11^at Garinger
Oct. 18^Myers Park
Oct. 25^at Butler
Nov. 1^at East Meck
Nov. 8^Rocky River