By Rob Moseley
Two true freshmen made their Oregon debuts Saturday at Virginia, and their first plays couldn’t have been much different.
In the fourth quarter, running back Thomas Tyner got his much-anticipated introduction to the college game, and scored a touchdown on his first snap. Tyner went on to finish with four carries for 51 yards and two scores.
Freshman linebacker Tyrell Robinson also played quite a bit in that final quarter. But his debut actually came on the opening play of the game. Robinson was in the middle of Oregon’s front line with the kickoff return team. The player Robinson was supposed to block blew by the freshman as if he were standing still, racing up the middle of the field to throw a wrench in the return.
“Little nervous, first play,” Robinson said after practice today, able to smile about it in the wake of a 59-10 victory. “But I shook it off after that.”
Robinson ended up playing on kickoff coverage as the game progressed, and took nine reps on defense in the fourth quarter. He finished with two tackles, and one hugely important step in terms of experience.
“It was pretty valuable,” Robinson said. “Some of the plays they ran were plays I’d studied real hard on. It kind of came easy, and I got to shoot my gap without hesitating.”
Robinson and his twin brother, Tyree, signed with the Ducks out of San Diego as almost identical 6-foot-4, 200-pound athletes. By this August, Tyree Robinson was a lithe, 195-pound safety, while Tyrell had bulked up into a 220-pound inside linebacker.
Today at practice, Tyrell even got some reps with the No. 2 defense as he continues to quickly mature. His brother is in line to redshirt, but Tyrell looks ready to contribute this season, after a memorable indoctrination Saturday.
“That was a big wake-up call for me,” Robinson said. “Playing a team from the ACC, they were real big, bigger than any team in the Pac-12. After that game I’m going to continue to work hard, and try to maintain.”