Nothing has come easy for DeMarcus Robinson since he arrived in Manhattan four years ago.
Robinson was supposed to be a star in the Kansas State offense — a four-star running back that rushed for a Wichita City League record 1,720 yards as a senior and finished with nearly 5,000 yards in his career at Northwest High.
But in three seasons, the 5-foot-7, 209-pound Robinson has accounted for just 45 yards on 11 carries.
Robinson — who redshirted in 2010 — carried the ball six times as a sophomore and just five times last season.
So what happened to the running back that was once ranked 18th in the country by Rivals.com out of high school?
It’s simple, if you ask K-State co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel.
“John Hubert,” he said Wednesday during the Wildcats’ media day gathering at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“With John, I had too much trust in him to take him out of the game,” Dimel said. “He lost two fumbles in three years.
“That’s what kept (DeMarcus) off the field. I just felt like I didn’t have to take John out of a game.”
Hubert finished his career as K-State’s second-leading rusher with nearly 3,000 yards, behind only Darren Sproles’ mark of 4,979 yards from 2001-04.
A three-year starter, Hubert carried the ball 198 times for 1,048 yards last season. The next closest running back was Robert Rose, who rushed 24 times for 104 yards, followed by Robinson and his 20 yards in three games.
“I’ve been frustrated, sure, but we’ve had good teams and John was playing great, so there’s not much I can be mad about,” said Robinson, who is now in a four-man battle this fall for the starting job. “That would be selfish of me.”
But now the job that’s been occupied by just two running backs in the last five seasons — Hubert and Daniel Thomas — is up for grabs and Robinson seems to be in as good a position as anyone to finally get on the field.
Competing against sophomores Jarvis Leverett and Charles Jones and talented true-freshman Dalvin Warmack, Robinson has waited a long time for this opportunity.
“I’m the oldest back here, have the most experience with the offense, but none of us have gotten that much playing time. I’ve been here and understand all the ins and outs of what we’re trying to do.
“I’ve tried to be patient. I just want to make the most of this chance.”
Dimel said Robinson looked poised to take the position last April before a minor ankle injury kept the former Grizzlies star out of the annual spring game.
“He went through the first five practices last spring and did better than anybody,” he said. “He’s strong, he’s fast and when he starts turning his feet over and going, he can cover a lot of grass.”
The running back race is so close right now that there may not be a clear-cut starter when the Wildcats take the field in their season opener against Stephen F. Austin on Aug. 30 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
It’s likely all the running backs will get a shot to impress.
“It’s wide open,” Robinson said. “We’re all out here competing. We all have something we bring to the table that’s a little bit different.
“I’m just ready to take advantage of it and show what I can do.”
Snyder rips college game
K-State coach Bill Snyder has never been bashful when it comes to his opinions on the state of college football.
That didn’t change Wednesday.
“It’s changed,” he said. “I mean, college athletics, football in particular, has changed dramatically over the years. I think we’ve sold out. We’re all about dollars and cents. The concept of college football no longer has any bearing on the quality of the person, the quality of students.
“Universities are selling themselves out.”
Snyder’s remarks came one day before the NCAA board of directors were set to vote on a proposal that would give the five power conferences — including the Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten and ACC — the power to make rules and pass legislation without the approval of the rest of the Division-I schools.
“It’s no longer about education,” Snyder said. “We’ve sold out to the cameras over there, and TV has made its way, and I don’t fault TV. I don’t fault whoever broadcasts games. They have to make a living and that’s what they do, but athletics — that’s all.
“It’s sold out.”