TALLAHASSEE — As he walked around the Florida State campus somewhat aimlessly one day shortly after the 2007 season, Jamie Robinson was lost in thought.
He couldn't stop mulling a move from cornerback to free safety.
"I don't know why I was thinking about it so much," he said.
It wasn't like the coaches, ahem, suggested it. It wasn't like he was itching to return to the familiar territory he roamed as a high school star in South Carolina. And it wasn't like he saw a new position as a way to get onto the field for the Seminoles.
He had been a key contributor during his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons and was coming off, perhaps, his best performance, in a loss to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.
But whatever planted the seed of change in his mind suddenly was a secondary concern. He abruptly stopped in his tracks, wheeled around and headed to the football office for a chat with his position coach, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. How did Andrews respond that day to Robinson's proposed shift?
"That's good," Andrews told him, "because I've already made it."
Both coach and player realized the move, or at least an experimental move, made sense to maximize Robinson's size, speed and playmaking abilities.
He gradually learned the position in six starts last season, and watching him these days, you can't stop thinking about the possibilities for the fifth-year senior. He has had an interception during virtually each practice.
"That's a good sign," coach Bobby Bowden said recently. "We haven't had much of that back there."
The defensive backs combined for five interceptions (one by Robinson) last season. Worse, the defense had just nine, the fewest since five in 1976 — Bowden's first year in Tallahassee.
"You're not going to be very good on defense if you can't make plays," Andrews said. "What it boils down to is how badly you want to gain possession of the football. It's not just making a tackle. It's not just slipping a blocker.
"That's part of it, but the idea of playing defense is to get the ball from the opponent. That's the thing this group has to do a better job of this year, and I think we will."
Well, look no further than Robinson's development at safety. He was named the most dependable defensive back after the spring practices (he had the only two interceptions in the Garnet & Gold game) and shared the defensive leadership award for the spring with linebacker Nigel Carr.
"Not many corners are physical enough to be safeties," Andrews said. "You've got to hit people, and you're going to get hit more. He had to improve his mental and physical toughness."
Robinson has done just that, and now he seems so comfortable, so confident at safety, you can't stop wondering one thing: Why didn't he move there sooner?
"He's doing so well, you kind of have to scheme to go away from him," fifth-year senior receiver Rod Owens said.
Case in point: During the team's first practice this month, Robinson drew a receiver who was running a slant route. Or so it appeared. But Robinson recognized the quarterback took a five-step drop, not a three-step drop that would be more indicative of a quick pass.
"I knew he was going to do something else," he said.
So when the receiver continued to go downfield, Robinson reacted in lockstep with him and was perfectly positioned when the ball came his way. The result? Interception.
"He's certainly taken his game to another level," said former Seminole Myron Rolle, the team's standout safety last season. "He's really just exploding."
"Our turnover ratio was very low last year, and that's not characteristic of a Florida State defense," echoed Robinson. "That's something I take very personally and (cornerback Pat Robinson, not related) takes very personally. We're going out there every day working with the mentality of, 'Let's get two picks a day.' That's going to carry over into the games."
And you can't stop mulling that over.
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347. Read his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/seminoles.