The Vikings' first day of organized team activities was over and there was third-year defensive lineman Brian Robison spending time giving some tips to fourth-round draft choice Everson Griffen, a defensive end from Southern California, as coaches watched.
"I'm trying to make this team better, man," said Robison, who spent more than 20 minutes working with the rookie. ''I like Everson. He seems like he's a very respectable guy, he's very sincere, he wants to learn. I think he wants to be a great player, and the more great players we can have on this team, the better the team we can be and get over that hump and win a Super Bowl.
"He actually came to me and said he wanted to work on some of his hand stuff, and things like that, which I guess is a very good compliment to me," Robison said. "I'm going to do what I can do to help him."
Robison could be very important to the success of the Vikings defensive line this year with the possibility of Pat and Kevin Williams being suspended for up for four games and defensive end Ray Edwards being a possible holdout.
"I'm just going to get out there and work hard and do what I always do ... not worry about those circumstances with Kevin and Pat and Ray and just to do what I do, which is work hard every day and take advantage of the opportunities I'm given," said the 6-3, 259-pounder, who was a fourth-round draft selection out of Texas in 2007.
Even though he has played a bit less each year, Robison is convinced he could start if given the opportunity.
"Yeah, without a doubt, but those are things I can't handle, that's up to the coaching staff, and all I can do is put it on tape and do something to show them that I deserve to play more," he said.
Robison had 24 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a rookie, 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his second year and 10 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year.
Robison wasn't happy with the playing time he got last season.
"I felt like I should have played a lot more, but like I said, the key to my role is to take advantage of the opportunities when I'm given them, and they gave me a few opportunities and I definitely took advantage of them," he said.
"I played more my second year than I did my third year, and more my first year than I did my second year, so it's frustrating, but I'm going to make sure that when I'm out there on the field, I'm going to do something to make my presence known.
"Without a doubt, you have to be here to be better ... even the great people practice every day."
Robison added that he has to improve every part of his game. "I don't think there's any way you can look at our film last year and say that we're good enough in one aspect, and I think in every way possible, we've got to improve to get over that last step."
Robison has been here since April 12 taking part in offseason workouts, an indication of how serious he is about having a great season.
"Most of the team actually has been here, believe it or not. I think everybody knows that we had a chance last year, and we didn't take advantage of it, and I think this year everybody has their mindset that we got to take that extra step this year," he said.Mbakwe udpate
Trevor Mbakwe, who won a lot of honors while playing basketball for Dade County Community College in the 2008-2009 season and then wound up being redshirted by the Gophers last season after being charged with a felony in Miami, has been given permission by Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi to explore a transfer.
And rest assured that Maturi wouldn't have given the 6-8, 240-pound forward that freedom unless coach Tubby Smith agreed with the move.
Mbakwe is unhappy about not being allowed to play last year and with his trial in Miami being continually postponed.
Maturi said he wouldn't be surprised if Mbakwe gets NCAA clearance to play at another school without putting in a year as a transfer student because of the action Maturi took in not allowing Mbakwe to play. Other schools would have allowed him to compete in the same situation.
It's my belief, because of the seriousness of the charge, that it's in everyone's best interest that he not play until the court matter is resolved.
"That's a decision I made, and maybe that's enough to get him a waiver," said Maturi. ''Again, it's not my decision on whether he gets a waiver. I don't want to prevent Trevor from playing, and if another school would allow him to play, I know Coach and I would not be opposed to it.
"I think Tubby wants the kid to be able to play. Now, the best thing to solve that is to get it resolved in Florida. I mean that's the big thing. This has gone on for over a year now."Jottings
There is no doubt the Pohlad family would have preferred to remain anonymous about its contribution of $2 million toward the building of a new Gophers baseball program, like it does with most other contributions. But university officials preferred to have the announcement so it might accelerate the raising of more money for the stadium. And the Pohlads were willing to go along with the university's request.
Steve Plasencia, who led the Gophers men's track and field team to a Big Ten indoor and outdoor championship in each of his two years as coach, has been named Big Ten coach of the year. Athletes who were honored on the All-Big Ten first team were conference winners Micah Hegerle (hammer), Ben Peterson (pole vault) and R.J. McGinnis (decathlon). The second team included Chris Rombough (5,000 and 10,000 meters), Raymond Blackledge (triple jump) and Trey Davis (shot put). In addition, senior Logan Stroman was named the Minnesota recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Former Gophers hockey player Paul Holmgren was named general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers in November 2006, and the ex-Flyers star is getting a lot of credit for putting together the team that is leading Montreal 2-0 in the NHL Eastern Conference semifinals.
There was a little Mississippi State history made Wednesday when Murray Warmath, who came from Mississippi State in 1954 and coached the Gophers football team, and current Mississippi coach Dan Mullen were on the Vikings practice field at the same time. Mullen at one time was on the Notre Dame staff with Vikings quarterback coach Kevin Rogers.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • email@example.com