Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
When Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson decided to put the NFL draft on hold and return to FSU for his senior season, he did himself and his team a favor.
Not only will Robinson use the 2009 season to improve his draft stock -- he wasn't projected to be taken in the first three rounds -- he will also be the veteran leader in an otherwise depleted secondary hit hard by loss of starting field corner Tony Carter, starting rover Myron Role and starting free safety Darius McClure. The Seminoles' coaches consider Robinson the best returning player on the defense, and will need him to play like it with an inexperienced corner on the opposite side and both safeties gone.
"With Tony Carter gone, he's going to be a big loss for me," Robinson said. "He knew a lot about football and he used to bail me out when the coaches were asking questions. I have to step up and try to be more of a leader ... just try to get better as a person and as a player on the field, watch more film and gain more knowledge of the game."
Robinson, who led the team with six interceptions as a sophomore in 2007, started eight of the nine games he played in and finished 2008 with 26 tackles, including two tackles for loss, one interception, four pass breakups, five passes defended and one forced fumble. His lone interception of the season came in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech and gave the Noles a chance at a comeback.
Robinson suffered a bone contusion in his knee against Florida and missed a few bowl practices, and also missed the Miami game with a back injury. He pointed to younger players like his backup, Korey Mangum, and free safety Jamie Robinson, who gained valuable experience.
"I think we have more playmakers coming back that are going to have to lead the defense," he said. "We should have a lot of experience coming back."
The players are lifting and running for their winter conditioning, and Robinson said his new role has already begun.
"I thought about it a couple of days ago," Robinson said. "I'm like, 'Wow, I'm a senior already.' It feels like yesterday I was a freshman coming in. I'm trying to be a leader and a role model for the younger kids. It's going to be a challenge for me to step up as a leader and be one of those guys people look up to."
And of course, he's still got something to prove.
"That's more motivation for me, just trying to prove I'm worth that draft pick in the first three rounds," he said. "That's more motivation for me to try to get better, work even harder than I've worked before, so I can prove to NFL scouts I'm worth that draft pick."