BLACKSBURG – For Keshawn King and Tayvion Robinson, the studying began in earnest well before classes started for their freshman year at Virginia Tech. The talented pair of rookies had an obvious but obligatory assignment from the Hokies coaches.
If they wanted to see the field as true freshmen, they had to learn the playbook.
“Going into fall camp, my main goal was just to learn as much as I can in the offense, because that’s what I was told in the summer,” Robinson, a wide receiver from Virginia Beach, said.
Robinson and King weren’t promised they’d play right away, but they were told that they’d have a chance to contribute as true freshmen – if they came to fall camp knowing their assignments. The duo did that and then some, working their way onto the Hokies’ two-deep and seeing significant action in the team’s season-opening loss at Boston College on Saturday.
They were among five true freshmen that played in the 35-28 loss to the Eagles, being joined by defensive tackles Mario Kendricks and Norell Pollard and tight end Nick Gallo. That number could expand this Saturday, when Tech (0-1) hosts Old Dominion (1-0) in the Hokies’ home opener at Lane Stadium.
At Boston College, the 5-foot-10, 186-pound Robinson, who started the game, caught six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. King carried the ball 10 times for a team-high 33 yards.
“They were productive,” Tech coach Justin Fuente said, noting that Robinson wore down later in the game. “There are a lot of things that they’ve got to get better at. … I thought they handled the moment. They were productive when they were in there. They, like the rest of us, have plenty of things to work on as we move forward.”
Robinson caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Willis in the second quarter against Boston College, becoming one of three Hokies’ players who would notch their first career college score on Saturday.
“That’s just who he is as a player,” Willis said. “He’s gifted. He’s got big play ability. He’s made all the catches.”
And, Willis said, Robinson delivered when the coaches implored him to get a handle on the playbook before fall camp started.
“He’s a smart kid. He picked up on the offense really quickly,” Willis said. “I think a big thing for freshmen is just knowing the plays. Knowing what to do. He’s also got the ability and is able to do it.”
Robinson also returned two kickoffs against the Eagles and has worked a punt returner in practice.
Meanwhile, King’s role may grow even greater with the undisclosed injury to fellow running back Jalen Holston. Fuente confirmed this week that Holston will be out for an extended period of time. Against Boston College, senior Deshawn McClease had 11 carries, King finished with 10 and Holston had six before being injured.
Holston tweeted a message on Monday to fans announcing he had underwent surgery and pledging to “get back sooner than you all think. So don’t miss me too much or forget about me.”
In the meantime, King, the 5-11, 182-pound Florida native, figures to have even more of an opportunity to impact the offense. Tuesday, he said he’s constantly learning more and more of the playbook, hoping to be used in more and more offensive packages.
“There’s something new all the time,” King said. “So you just have to learn it, you have to know it and then you have to go execute.”