The Evolution of Allen Robinson

One glimmer of light in what has been a rather dark two weeks for the Penn State football program has come in the mold of a 6-3 205 lb. sophomore wide receiver from Orchard Lake, Michigan.

The name of the small Detroit suburb might ring a bell. For some, it brings back memories of former quarterback Rob Bolden. When Allen Robinson committed to Penn State in November 2010, he was often referred to as “the guy who went to high school with Rob Bolden.”

The two never had the opportunity to rekindle their chemistry from high school, only connecting on two passes for twenty yards last season, but there is no doubt that the wideout is on track to have a much more successful career than his former signal caller.

These days, just about everyone around Penn State knows Robinson’s name. Such is the case when one emerges as the number one receiving option in an offense with few experienced wide outs. Soon, more people outside of Happy Valley and Michigan may be learning Robinson’s name. He currently ranks fourth in the country in receptions (19) and 21st in yards (186) over the first two weeks. These statistics are good enough to put Robinson at the top when it comes to Big Ten receivers.

Robinson has certainly evolved from the three star recruit who only received scholarship offers from Buffalo, Minnesota, and Toledo in addition to the Nittany Lions. Between other receivers graduating, being dismissed from the team, transferring, and changing positions, Robinson received an opportunity to be the go to guy, but opportunity alone does not allow a player to double his career output in the first half of the first game of his second season. The signs were there after a strong performance in the Blue-White game, but much of the improvement can be chalked up to working with the training staff and practicing with quarterback Matt McGloin, especially over the summer and on weekends.

Despite how impressive the numbers look after two weeks, Robinson can do better. He knows it, and will be the first one to admit that he still has a ways to go. “I really need to focus on catching the ball, looking it in and avoiding critical drops,” said the sophomore receiver during a conference call yesterday.

In both games, Robinson has dropped some key passes that could have gone for big plays. Against Ohio, he failed to come up with a grab on fourth down from the Ohio thirty yard line with the Nittany Lions clinging to a four point lead. The contest against Virginia sticks out more. He dropped two consecutive passes in Virginia territory late in the third quarter, but the most crushing one came earlier, as Robinson dropped a beautiful throw from Steven Bench with less than a minute before halftime. This would have given the Nittany Lions a 14-3 lead and momentum after thirty minutes of play as opposed to hanging onto a 7-3 advantage. “It was a difficult play, but it should have been caught,” added Robinson. These plays are crucial for a team–and offense–searching for some sort of breakthrough.

Robinson has replaced graduated receiver Derek Moye as McGloin’s favorite target in the offense. He calls his quarterback a “great leader” and believes he looks more comfortable than ever out on the field. McGloin definitely appreciates the compliment and the catches, as Robinson has accounted for 40.7% of his passing yards so far.

When he came to Happy Valley, it was expected that he would play alongside guys like Justin Brown, Devon Smith, Curtis Drake, and Shawney Kersey with Bolden throwing to him. Out of that group, only Robinson remains. The evolution from freshman backup to go-to sophomore is not yet complete, just like some passes thrown his way, but if the first two games are any indication, the continuing evolution of the young wideout will be worth watching.

It would not be a Wednesday column without a few highlights from Bill O’Brien’s weekly press conference:

  • Bill Belton (ankle), Derek Day(shoulder), Pete Massaro (shoulder), and Nyeem Wartman (knee) are all listed as “possible” on the injury report.
  • If those two running backs cannot play, the Nittany Lions will start their third different running back in the span of three weeks. Curtis Dukes will likely get the call.
  • O’Brien has not ruled out the possibility of Akeel Lynch playing but says that he ideally would like to redshirt the freshman running back.
  • Does Paul Jones get his first live snap of his collegiate career this Saturday? It sounds like it could happen as a tight end.
  • Improved play on third down for both the offense and defense and scoring points off turnovers were the two themes of O’Brien’s comments.
  • Matt McGloin did not throw on Monday after injuring his elbow against Virginia but should be fine for Navy come Saturday.

Quote of the Day: 

O’Brien called the social media treatment that kicker Sam Ficken received following Saturday’s game “absolutely ridiculous” and “very cowardly.” He really does not seem to care for these type of outlets at all, referring to them as “Spacebook” and “Tweeter.” Add those two terms to his dictionary along with “run-on” and “dirty show.”

We will break down Navy tomorrow. For the rest of the day, enjoy this meme courtesy of our own Ryan Beckler.

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About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.

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