PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Sixth-year senior Mason Robinson was a wide-eyed recruit the last time Rutgers had this much buzz as an undefeated team. He watched the perception of the program first hand in 2006.
Now No. 23 in the country after beating Arkansas in a hostile environment, Robinson is seeing the same transformation.
“It’s something that everybody wanted to be a part of,” Robinson said on the 2006 season. “Rutgers, in the past, yeah that’s New Jersey’s school, but everybody’s still fans of other places.
“They’re fans of Notre Dame, Michigan, other places. It felt like more of the state got behind the team. More fans, I don’t know if it was bandwagon fans or whatever, but all of a sudden more people wanted to go to the games. They had to put in extra stands in the end zone before they closed it off. More people just wanted to be in that atmosphere.”
Robinson was a four-star running back recruit out of Somerville, N.J., during the 2006 season. Still undecided in November when the buzz was at an all-time high, Robinson said the winning ways were huge in recruiting.
He expects that to be the same this year if No. 23 Rutgers keeps on its path.
“At that time, I still wasn’t decided, but Rutgers was one of my top choices,” Robinson said. “I was like, ‘this is a great atmosphere.’ It was just something I would love to be a part of that type of atmosphere. … It’s like, you watch that as a recruit and you’re ready to commit.”
Robinson has been a part of ranked Rutgers teams and big program wins. Robinson was a true freshman during the win over No. 2 South Florida in 2007, but said beating Arkansas took everything to another level.
“It was great,” Robinson said. “It’s one of the one of the bumps that Rutgers football has finally been able to get over. While I was here, we had games that we played like South Florida when they were No. 2 and Louisville before I got here. With an SEC team, usually in the past, we find a way to lose those games. We finally got the win in that game, so it was big for the program, big for the school and for the conference.”
Tickets are becoming a hot commodity for the “blackout” game in two weeks against Connecticut. According to Robinson, the buzz is back on campus. As a captain, he said his role is to keep the team focused to avoid another disappointment against Connecticut.
“It feels good because the work that everyone’s put into, the grind since the spring time and, with myself, grinding since the injury, to see things going the way we expected them to go,” Robinson said. “It’s a shock to a lot of people out there, but to us, this is what we trained for. This is what we worked for. It’s not too much of a shock to us.”