St. Thomas’ Robinson taking charge at center

As an offensive lineman, St. Thomas junior Langston Robinson’s focus has long been on creating holes. This season, he’s been called upon to fill one.

The 6-foot-2, 313-pound Robinson started at left guard last season, but the plan had been in place since the start of spring ball last year that he would be moving to center this season to deal with the loss of All-American Matt Weimann due to graduation.

Tommies head coach Glenn Caruso said he knew from the time Robinson was being recruited at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee that he had the physical and mental aptitude needed to handle the demanding position. With Robinson as a willing participant, the transition took root 18 months ago.

“There’s so much more to the center position than just snapping the ball and blocking your guy,” Caruso said. “You’re responsible for orchestrating, not just what is happening on the obvious things like pass protection, but even in the run game. It calls for intuitive adjustments. And I would say that we ask for more than the average coaching staff asks for its center, just because the run game is a little more intricate than what some other teams do.

“There’s a lot to deduce in a short period of time. Not only the formation we’re in, but the front they are in, the adjustments we need to make to their front. There might be five different ways the called play can present. That’s job No. 1 for him.”

Robinson said he got a brief introduction to what would be his new position during spring practice his freshman year.

“It did not go well,” he said. “I had snaps going everywhere, and I wasn’t really making the best calls. But they stuck with me the whole way. They kept my confidence up, and guys stayed with me after practice to help get my snaps down. My teammates helped me out a lot.”

While the center and guard play side by side, the positions are worlds apart.

“The biggest thing for me has been learning how to think quickly,” Robinson said. “And not just think (about) myself, but thinking for everybody and getting everybody on the same page. As a center you have everything thrown at you, but it’s a great privilege to know that they trust me.”

Robinson said things began to click for him last spring. “I was able to slow everything down a lot more, trust my self and try out some new things to see what works,” he said. “It’s been a process, really.

“Right now, playing center has really opened a lot for me mentally. You can’t just worry about the defensive linemen, you have to also look at safety rotation, you have to look at linebacker alignment. You have to worry about who is in protection with you and who’s not. There’s a lot that goes into it.”

As Caruso described the responsibilities, “You don’t necessarily have to be the best lineman, “but you have to allow the linemen to be at their best.”

Robinson said he talks regularly with Weimann, who is part of a group chat of former Tommies who continue to offer their support to the team. Caruso said such interaction is part of the Tommies legacy.

“Not just the logistical information that you pass along,” he said, “but just letting him know that he has a mentor.”

The feeling of being part of a family —along with staying close to family — helped lead Robinson to St. Thomas. He had other Division I offers, including one to Columbia in the Ivy League, but committed to the Tommies despite being unable to visit the campus due to Covid restrictions.

“Proximity to home was a big (reason),” Robinson said. “I have some older family members, and they always supported me in high school. So it meant a lot to me coming to a place that wasn’t too far from home. I could go back if I wanted to, and they could come up to watch.

“I developed a great relationship with all the coaches even though I wasn’t able to visit. They called me and texted me to see how I was doing — even outside of football. It just felt like home. Making me feel that way over the phone, it just felt like the right fit.”

Robinson, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, has an open mind when it comes to a future career. The same can be said for the possibility of playing professional football.

“It definitely has crossed my mind,” Robinson said, “especially with Matt being one of the first guys to test those waters, having a pro day and having scouts come and watch him. It’s like, ‘Wow, this can be a real possibility.’

“Obviously, there were others before him who helped put him in that situation, so I’m grateful for him, and I’m sure he’s grateful for them. It’s all just a big family.”


Starting quarterback Tak Tateoka remains sidelined due to a leg injury, so Amari Powell will run the offense.

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