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Position change leads to recruiting momentum for Wayne's Robertson

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Junior DE highly ranked in Class of 2016

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 6:05 am

Auston Robertson admits he was initially against the position switch he made barely a month ago.

After all, what 6-foot-5, 235-pound wide receiver accustomed to having the ball in his hands wants to instead put his hand on the ground in the trenches at defensive end?

“I didn't like it at first,” said Robertson, a junior-to-be at Wayne. “(AWP strength coach) Kevin Bush kept persuading me, telling me how I'm good at receiver, but great at defensive end.”

While being a tall wide receiver wins you a lot of battles with defensive backs, Robertson's skill set was simply not being maximized at the position.

“He has great athletic ability,” AWP Sports President Michael Ledo said. “But the thing you saw is that he had a difficult time making adjustments to the ball in the air.

“So we said, 'Let's have him put his hand in the dirt. Let's make him a (Jadeveon) Clowney.'”

Robertson's stock has soared ever since. He currently holds scholarship offers from Toledo, Akron and Indiana, but many more are likely to follow. His performance on the camp circuit so far this summer has earned him interest from the likes of Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame.

Robertson visited Michigan on Monday with AWP teammates Austin Mack of Bishop Luers and Justin Tranquill of Carroll. He was also invited to Notre Dame's Irish Invasion camp this weekend, but will miss it due to being in Florida at the IMG 7v7 National Championship with AWP.

Robertson is ranked No. 89 nationally in the Class of 2016 by 247Sports, a national Internet recruiting service. He rates as a four-star prospect and the No. 3 defensive end in the country.

Not bad for someone who did not want to move positions.

“He wasn't very happy with it at first,” Ledo said. “When you are 6-5, 235 (pounds) the argument is you could be one of the top tight ends in the country. It just wasn't naturally happening for him.”

The transition has been more than just an adjustment in alignments and objective. Robertson has had to learn footwork as well as how to use his hands to engage and shed blockers. But what he lacks in refined defensive end skills he more than makes up for in raw talent and ceiling.

At the RAS Camp last week at Ohio State, Robertson began to feel comfortable at the position while battling some of the nation's best.

“The toughest thing is the mentality (of the position),” Ledo said. “When you bring somebody to the defensive side of the ball, it is a whole different mindset.”

Robertson is adjusting to the new position well thus far, but will face the next test in the fall when he competes at defensive end in full pads for the first time.

Ledo isn't worried.

“When a kid like him goes to a Michigan camp or RAS camp he is going against 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 offensive linemen that hold 10, 15 or 20 (scholarship) offers, he is not going to line up against that (kind of kid) in Fort Wayne,” Ledo said. “If he can beat that kid in that situation, he comes back home fairly confident that there aren't many kids who are going to be able to physically match up with him.”

Robertson plans to visit Alabama next month and hopes to make a return trip to Michigan in the near future, continuing the momentum that has been building since the position switch.

“It is very surprising, it just doesn't feel real,” Robertson said. “It's all happening so fast.”