Well-rounded, and well-grounded

Posted Sep 8, 2010

The Seahawks acquired more than a Pro Bowl-caliber special teams player when they signed Michael Robinson after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers.

During his career at Penn State, Michael Robinson played quarterback, split end, tailback and slot back. In 2005, he was the Big Ten offensive player of the year – and not just because he played so many offensive positions.

What is he most pleased about from his productive, and versatile, stay in Happy Valley?

“The fact that I graduated in three years. The fact that I got two degrees. The fact that I am 12 credits away from a master’s (degree). The fact that I got a lot of on-camera experience. The fact that I got to play for Joe Paterno,” Robinson said Wednesday.

“And then football.”

Meet one of the newest – not to mention most well-rounded and well-grounded – members of the 2010 Seahawks. Robinson was signed Monday after being released Saturday by the San Francisco 49ers on their final roster cut.

“He’s a very versatile football player,” coach Pete Carroll said. “His background and the things that they have done over the years with him, you see him in a lot of different settings.”

Did someone say versatile? With Robinson, it started in high school. He led Varina High School to a pair of state runner-up finishes in Virginia by – get this – running for 3,046 yards and 37 touchdowns; passing for 2,409 yards; and collecting 211 tackles, 18 interceptions and 13 sacks while also playing safety.

As a senior at Penn State, he passed for 2,350 yards and 17 TDs and also ran for 806 yards and 11 more touchdowns.

With the 49ers, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2006, he ran a little (289 yards), received a little (43 receptions), returned a little (22.4-yard average on 30 returns) and played a whole lot of special teams (27 coverage tackles in 2007 and a Pro Bowl alternate in 2008).

Now, it’s up to the Seahawks to decide just how to utilize everything that Robinson is able to do.

“I’m always looking for guys that have unique qualities about them,” Carroll said. “And Mike was certainly one of those guys. He has great versatility.

“He’ll be a big part of this game plan.”

With the odd twist that this week has Robinson playing his first game a member of the Seahawks against his former team in Sunday’s regular-season opener at Qwest Field.

“Yeah, it’s very weird,” he said. “But it’s football. It’s business. I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be a Seahawk. I’m just ready to play.”

Releasing the versatile Robinson was not an easy decision for 49ers coach Mike Singletary. But when push came to roster cuts on Saturday, Robinson was gone because the coaches could not devise a way to get him on the field more on offense.

“He’s one of the classiest individuals you’re ever going to meet,” Singletary said Wednesday during a conference call interview. “To me, he exemplifies everything that you want on a great football team. His attitude is superb.

“So for us, Mike is a tremendous loss. And I explained it to him. I love Mike. He’s somebody you always want around you – quality people like him.”

The 49ers’ loss is obviously the Seahawks’ gain. In addition to playing a lot of special teams, Robinson also got some reps at tailback and fullback in his first practice. Without a true fullback on the roster, the 6-foot-1, 223-pound Robinson definitely is an option. With that size, he also could become the short-yardage back that coach Pete Carroll has been looking for to complement his stable of smaller backs – Justin Forsett (5-8, 198), Leon Washington (5-8, 203) and Julius Jones (5-10, 208).

No one is more aware of the multitude of talents – and options – that Robinson offers than Jeff Ulbrich. The Seahawks’ first-year assistant special teams coach spent the past 10 seasons playing for the 49ers, and the past four as Robinson’s teammate.

“When I saw we had a chance to get Michael, I went nuts,” Ulbrich said. “I went to coach and just sold my soul to try and get him here. Fortunately, we were able to get it done and I don’t think it took long for coach to see what he’s all about either.

“Michael is everything you would want in a football player. He’s smart. He will be prepared. He works hard. He’s tough. He’s physical. And on top of that, he’s got physical tools. Normally, that guy with all those other attributes doesn’t have much and he’s overcome it. But Michael has it all, plus physical tools.

“We’re a better team to have him, without a doubt.”

But when it comes times to decide just where to play Robinson, they might want to pass on Ulbrich’s opinion.

“In two weeks, he’d be able to play quarterback, we’d be able to play right guard; right tackle; Z, X (wide receivers),” Ulbrich said. “He’ll play any position.”

But back to the well-grounded person that allows Michael Robinson to be such a well-rounded player.

“I went to school for a reason, and it wasn’t just football,” said Robinson, whose degrees are in advertising and public relations.

But when it comes to football, what does Robinson consider himself? Former college QB? Tailback? Fullback? Extra-special special teams player?

“I’m a football player, first,” he said. “You’ve got to be a football player to succeed in this game. You have to be a football player. Not necessarily a running back, or a quarterback, or whatever. You’ve got to be a football player. You’ve got to love the game.

“I definitely do.”