While watching a recent SIU football game, fans might have been somewhat confused at just what position Brandon Robinson plays.

By Gus Bode

During last week’s game against Northern Iowa, Robinson lined up at wide receiver, slot receiver, fullback and tailback and also played on special teams.

Officially, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., is listed as a fullback, but if you asked opposing defensive coordinators, they would probably just refer to him as a headache.

“These days in college football, the game is all about personnel,” said SIU running backs coach Robert Reeves. “And if you can line up in different formations, it’s tough on defenses. It’s tough on a defensive coordinator.”


Robinson’s versatility has given the Salukis an invaluable offensive weapon that has paid big dividends in SIU’s last two games.

Two weeks ago, Robinson caught a six-yard pass in the back of the end zone as time expired that gave the Salukis a miraculous 54-52 upset victory over then-No. 8 Western Illinois.

“We’ve been building and building and we’ve just never been able to get over that hill,” Robinson said. “Hopefully that game, that catch, helped us get over the hump and we can take it to the next level.”

Against the No. 12 Panthers on Saturday, Robinson took the snap on a fake punt and took it 67 yards for the first score of the game. The trick play stunned Northern Iowa and jump-started the Salukis to an improbable 42-13 victory.

Robinson carried the ball only five times against UNI, but totaled 122 yards, his first 100-plus yard game at SIU. On the season, he has rushed 35 times for 284 yards and one touchdown. He has also caught seven passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

Because of Robinson’s success this season, the coaching staff has tried to use his skills to their full potential, no matter where it chooses to line him up at.

“[Robinson’s] a kid in our program who we’re always trying to find ways to get him the football,” Reeves said. “He’s kind of that back who’s right in the middle. He’s not quite a fullback, not quite a tailback, but he’s a playmaker.”


Robinson came into the season not knowing exactly where he would play but with high expectations nonetheless. He saw action in the Salukis’ first two games, then, when senior running back Tom Koutsos went down with a season-ending injury, Robinson took on a bigger role.

Junior running back Muhammad Abdulqaadir stepped in for Koutsos, and Robinson became the No.2 ball carrier. Abdulqaadir said having a player with Robinson’s versatility has been a definite advantage for him and the rest of the offense.

“It takes a little pressure off [me],” Abdulqaadir said. “Being a predominately running offense, teams kind of stack the box, and he takes a little pressure off because they have to respect him when he’s in the receiver spot.”

Something else Robinson has brought to the team is leadership, which is an especially valuable commodity this season for the Salukis, who are one of the youngest teams in the nation.

Robinson, who transferred to SIU from Purdue before last season, has the rare distinction of having played in the Rose Bowl, which he did two seasons ago. He has helped several young players become accustomed to the college game.

“He’s definitely a team leader,” said redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Sambursky. “He does things on the field; he’s picking people up. He’s always getting in my face. It’s just good having a guy that’s so passionate about the game.”

Robinson is sure to play a key role for the Salukis when they travel to Illinois State this Saturday to take on the Redbirds. The only question is what position he will be doing it from.

Reporter Todd Merchant can be reached at [email protected]