‘Bowling Ball’ Josh Robinson brings juice to offense as new starting running back

Geoff Collins is the man behind ‘Juice Points’ at Mississippi State, and he can be seen running around the field jumping, yelling and high-fiving throughout a practice.

While Collins may be the one keeping track of the actual points, rising junior running back Josh Robinson, who often jaws playfully back and forth at practice with the defensive coordinator, claims the energy itself started with him.

“Nah,” Robinson said with a laugh when asked about Collins, “I’m the Juice Guy. Coach Collins brings juice to the defense, I bring juice to the offense.”

RGGMFDYJYPUMLTO.20120916031143While trash talking and quick wits on the field are usually reserved for the defensive side of the ball, Robinson has been one of the most vocal players on the team in all areas. On the practice field, on the game field, in the locker room or even running around with a video camera surrounded by a horde of fans waiting outside the stadium like he did before MSU played at Alabama back in 2012.

He certainly doesn’t lack for confidence, either, as he uttered the words “National Championship” following an overtime win at Arkansas last fall. The Bulldogs only had five wins at the time with one game left that season, but the optimistic sophomore and his ever-moving mouth couldn’t help looking ahead to the future.

“He’s got a lot of energy to him,” Dan Mullen said with a smile after the first practice of the spring. “He likes to talk. It’s good to have those guys and the excitement that he plays with.”

Robinson is the first to speak up on the sideline in down moments and the last to leave the locker room as he encourages his teammates.

“I’ve always been like this,” he said. “I’m always the energizer bunny trying to motivate people around me. You never know how somebody’s day is going.”

The truth of his self-assessment goes beyond football, too.

When spring break began, the last free week for Robinson and the team before spring practice got started, his classmates and teammates all skipped town for vacations on sandy beaches.

He eventually joined his friends for sun and fun, but not before spending the beginning of that week visiting with sick children at the hospital and hanging out with kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Starkville.

He didn’t go as part of team field trip or because his parents made him.

That’s just how Robinson is.

“I gotta give back to the kids,” he said in a much quieter tone than usual. “I’m majoring in that. That’s what I want to do.”

Of course, what his major is may prove to be inconsequential if he follows in the footsteps of the running backs who came before him at MSU.

7847382LaDarius Perkins is headed to the NFL, Vick Ballard was drafted by the Colts, Anthony Dixon just signed his second NFL contract, Robinson ticked off on his hand.

One reporter asked him if he remembered Jerious Norwood, called J-Rock by those in Maroon and White. Fitting for Robinson, who calls himself J-Rob.

Although, Mullen has said before Robinson reminds him of Dixon. Not because they look or play the same, not at all. But because of the personality and charisma they have in common.

Robinson keeps in touch with those who preceded him in the backfield lineage as he now steps into the role they all had: being the starting running back at a school with a history of great ones.

“I’m trying to do something none of them did,” Robinson said, again making passing mention of his lofty goals. “I’m trying to make history.”

In the short few months of the offseason so far, and under the tutelage of MSU’s new strength and conditioning coach, Robsinon has been molding and re-shaping his body to prepare for a starter’s load.

He says he first dropped some weight, purposely, after the 2013 season ended. Then, Robinson tells us, he put the weight back on by building muscle.

The result?

“I’m faster,” he said, “and stronger, too.”

Both Robinson and Mullen acknowledge he has to work on some of the little things like blocking and route running as he assumes the starting gig from Perkins, but his 5.9 yards per carry in backup duty last year are a good start and his 574 total yards were the fourth-most of all offensive players.

To be sure, the difference from being a backup and a starter is great, but whatever Robinson lacks in reps, he makes up for in confidence.

“Just be the best player Josh Robinson can be,” he said. “We’ve got a great team. We’re expecting big things to happen. I’ve just gotta play my role and do what I can do.

“[Perkins] told me, ‘Be Bowling Ball and when you strike, strike hard.’”

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