As the starting tight end for a team that rarely uses one, Drew Robinson is about as necessary as snow tires on Speedway.
That might be changing soon.
The UA's renewed dedication to the running game could mean big things for Robinson, a 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound junior college transfer. Robinson caught 28 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns at Snow College in Utah a year ago. He enrolled at the UA last January, but was limited in spring drills and training camp because of a left foot injury.
Since returning at full strength, Robinson's blocking and pass-catching have improved exponentially. Coaches moved Jack Baucus to tackle during training camp, making Robinson the team's No. 1 tight end, and now feature him, Taimi Tutogi and a tailback in a "full house" offensive set.
Robinson could start, depending on which offense the UA decides to implement, when the Wildcats (1-3 overall, 0-2 Pac-12) travel to USC on Saturday.
"He's starting to come on as a player," coach Mike Stoops said. "We've got a good tight end who we feel is improving. We have to get some physical play out of Tutogi or Drew Robinson. We have to get our backs started."
The Star talked to Robinson, 22, about his health, his new role in the Wildcats' offense and what the Wildcats must do to compete with the Trojans:
Coaches say you've stepped up in practice the last few weeks. What's been clicking for you?
A: "You know, I've been working a lot. It's come time for me to contribute. I'm excited to help this team win."
The Wildcats play a lot of five-wide sets and don't use the tight end a lot. What's your role when you're in the game?
A: "Mostly blocking. We have a lot of blocking stuff, and if we do our job blocking, they'll get us the ball. I did both (at Snow College). I caught a lot of passes, and I blocked a lot."
What's the key to run-blocking in this offense?
A: "Stay low, play fast and physical, and be tough."
What happened to your foot?
A: "Turf toe. It was really bad. Right when it happened, I couldn't even walk. I was doing a 'ring' drill where you have to push the other guy out of the ring. My foot just popped, and I was done right then. It took me 6 1/2, seven months to get back."
When do you think you'll catch your first pass?
A: "Hopefully, this game. They've got a few plays for me. Hopefully, I can get a ball. They're not expecting it. If I just pop out, I'll be wide open."
• Arizona's game at Oregon State on Oct. 8 has been set for 12:30 p.m. It will not be on TV.
On StarNet: See Ryan Finley's Wildcats blog at azstarnet.com/finley
• What: Arizona at USC
• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV; radio: FSAZ; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM