Louisville's Robinson makes unexpected switch

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Southern Mississippi's coaches had to be checking their scouting reports and roster sheets when the Golden Eagles first lined up on offense last week at Louisville.

Starting at cornerback for the Cardinals was junior Andrew Robinson. Sure, Robinson had played defensive back before -- three years ago in high school.

Plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness in the secondary, Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe decided to give the wide receiver a crack at cornerback. And the results were surprisingly good in the Cardinals 25-23 win.

"He missed a tackle or two, but he hasn't been out there tackling very much," Kragthorpe said. "He was in the position where he was supposed to be on almost all the plays. For him to step up the way he did, I was really, really proud of him."

Players change positions all the time, but usually not in midseason. Robinson approached Louisville defensive backs coach Larry Slade about helping out in the secondary just two weeks ago in practice before the Pitt game. Slade ran Robinson through some one-on-one drills against receivers and liked what he saw.

By last Tuesday, Robinson was running with the first teamers. That says a lot about where Louisville's talent level is, but also about Robinson's work ethic and ability.

"It was pretty natural, coming from being a receiver," Robinson. "You have certain tendencies you give away a far as your routes and coming out of your breaks and things like that. So I think it was kind of an advantage being over on receiver side first."

The Cardinals didn't strand Robinson out on an island much and made sure he had help against Southern Miss. But he did not look lost.

"I felt good," he said. "I had to put in a little extra studying as far as coverages go. But after the first couple of series, I kind of got into a rhythm, and after that, it was just going out and playing."

Robinson played at Manual High School, which is located across the street from the edge of Louisville's campus. He said he grew up a Cardinals fan and always had his heart set on playing there. He had a few scholarship offers from FCS schools but jumped at the chance to walk on to his hometown school.

Coaches have always raved about how hard Robinson works in practice, and in the spring of 2008, Kragthorpe put him on scholarship. Robinson got his first significant action on offense last season and made seven catches for 71 yards. He has one catch this year and has also spent time as the team's punt returner.

Now, he sees himself as a defensive back.

"I'm just doing what the team needs," he said. "Playing here has always meant a lot to me, so when I've gotten an opportunity I've just tried to make the most of it."