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Guelph's Tavius Robinson better prepared for second NCAA season

In 10 games last season for Ole Miss, Tavius Robinson had nine tackles, nine assisted tackles and a sack

A year ago, Guelph native Tavius Robinson was working out in a garage with some of his Guelph Gryphons football teammates, who were also his roommates.

The Gryphons’ annual week-long spring camp had been cancelled due to COVID-19, but defensive lineman Robinson had every intention of playing his third campaign for the Gryphons in the fall.

However, that all changed when the Canadian university football season was also called off due to the pandemic.

Determined to pursue the sport professionally, Robinson didn’t want to miss any development time so sent highlight videos to U.S. colleges and eventually ended up suiting up with the Ole Miss Rebels.

Now the Guelph CVI graduate is in the midst of Ole Miss’s five-week spring camp. He missed the Rebels’ off-season last year and had to do a lot of in-season learning and adapting to the NCAA game.

“(It’s) definitely a lot better than it was last year,” he said during an Ole Miss video conference. “As the practices go on, having a full off-season and all that, I understand the game more and the plays. I can read the plays a lot faster now. Day-by-day, things are getting better for sure.”

Last season Robinson played in all 10 games for the Rebels including their 26-20 win over the seventh-ranked Indiana Hoosiers in the Outback Bowl Jan. 2, a day before he turned 22. Robinson had an assisted tackle in that game and finished the season with nine solo tackles, nine assisted tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and a sack for a loss of seven yards.

In two seasons with the Gryphons he had a total of 33 solo tackles, 32 assisted tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss and 12.5 sacks. He was a member of the OUA league’s all-rookie team in 2018 and a second-team all-star in 2019.

The workouts with Ole Miss and his training program have meant Robinson has bulked up since arriving there.

“I'm up around 260 pounds now,” he said. “When I got here I was around 245 so I've gained about 10 to 15 pounds of muscle. I'm going to try to keep getting stronger and keep my speed at the same time.”

Ole Miss will be looking to improve on the defensive side of the ball after yielding an average of 519 yards of offence per game to its opponents during the 2020 season. That was ranked 126th and better only than the 522 allowed by the North Texas Mean Green.

“It feels like we have a lot more energy,” Robinson said. “We're out competing and all that. The energy feels different this spring, for sure.

“Mainly it's just coming every day and having a lot of passion and energy and being physical with everything we do, shedding blocks and all that stuff. Just bringing the physicality and energy every day is the main thing we're looking for.”

It was a different story on offence as the Rebels averaged 555.5 yards per game, third in NCAA FBS football behind Kent State (606.5) and Central Florida (568).

“We want to be the ones to win games. We're coming in with physicality and just trying to win games on defence,” Robinson said. “We're just looking to get better every day.”

Ole Miss finished last season with a 5-5 record and they were leading or tied in the fourth quarter of three of the losses.

“Now it comes down to finishing plays,” Robinson said. “We're practising our two-minute drills at the end of practice. You go the whole practice and it's what can you do at the end. Our fourth-quarter program really helps with that. It's really grinding in the two-minute drill and making sure we can finish out games.”

Ole Miss’s spring camp is to wrap up April 24 with the Grove Bowl, its annual spring intrasquad scrimmage. Its 2021 season is scheduled to begin Sept. 6.