K-State spring football

Kansas State defensive back Lance Robinson works on a pass-catching drill during a spring practice in March. Robinson said he used the four games he played in last season to help him improve this spring.

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When Lance Robinson arrived in Manhattan, he went from being the man in high school to just a kid at the bottom of a Division I depth chart.

The feeling gave him purpose.

“At the end of the day, just want to help my family and want to prove people wrong,” the redshirt freshman said on the field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium following the team’s Spring Showcase on Saturday. “Just setting up, down the line, generational wealth. One of the ways I can do that is by making it to the NFL. If I feel like it’s a purpose beyond me, I feel like I can make it happen.”

Consider last season his initiation. He played in four games but retained his redshirt because he didn’t appear in any more. He started against Kansas and Texas Tech.

The play that sticks out came against the Jayhawks at home. Kansas used three wide receivers. Robinson, the nickel corner, lined up.

Burned on a post route ... with no safety help.

“I wasn’t used to that coming from high school,” Robinson said. “I was only 18 years old.”

But overall, Robinson said he gained confidence last season. He humbled himself. He no longer was the big man on campus, so he had to do what he could to focus on improving each day.

He had to learn to make a mark elsewhere. This spring, he’s trying to do so.

For half of spring practice, Robinson worked at both corner and nickel. He found it difficult to keep going back and forth, so the coaches made him a corner.

He said his man coverage technique has improved. He added that he’s loved working with new defensive backs coach Van Malone, who is part of a revamped coaching staff.

Robinson also said he’s now 192 pounds, up seven from last season. He said he feels everything is going well.

“He’s always been a very natural athlete and a really high competitor, but I think for him, he’s definitely gained with confidence knowing that he can be really great a young level,” defensive back Denzel Goolsby said. “He’s got a lot of eligibility left. You see a lot of guys come in and maybe they’re a little bit more patient with their approach to when they’re going to be a starter, but he wants it right now. He wants to be great right now and you can see that with how he works and how he’s curious to always learn.”

Robinson said he’ll play wherever the coaches want — corner, safety, nickel or, yes, nose tackle. Head coach Chris Klieman shouldn’t need him on the defensive line, but Robinson could be a big part of a secondary that lost three starters from a year ago.

Robinson said the new defense is different. For one, the Wildcats press more.

“We could be pressing for five plays in a row,” said Robinson, who added that it is a good development because teams would dink and dunk K-State last season.

He had 34 offers coming out of high school, but didn’t choose an SEC school because he felt he was a bit too small. Nowadays, he said he feels like he can compete with anyone.

Spring ball, he said, was a clean slate.

Fall will be a new one.

Robinson seems primed for playing time, but it’s up in the air; K-State has not yet released a depth chart, and won’t do so until the fall.

“Nothing’s written in stone,” Robinson said.

He has a lasting mark from a transformational freshman season. It sits on his left wrist.

In fall camp last year, Robinson injured his wrist. He kept playing, but continued to irritate it throughout the season.

Turns out, he had two torn ligaments.

He underwent surgery after the season and wore a cast for about seven weeks. Now, a scar that spans a couple inches is all that’s left.

“That’s a hefty scar,” Robinson said.

This article originally ran on themercury.com.

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