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Allen Robinson Gets Hosed for Biletnikoff Finalist

I usually hate doing this, because while numbers never lie, they don’t always tell the truth. However, in this instance, I think it’s appropriate. Below are the numbers of four football players. Try to guess who they are:

Player #1: 110 receptions, 1,560 yards, 14.2 YPC, 15 TD’s.

Player #2: 61 receptions, 1,314 yards, 21.5 YPC, 12 TD’s.

Player #3: 78 receptions, 1,144 yards, 14.7 YPC, 10 TD’s.

Player #4: 89 receptions, 1,310 yards, 14.7 YPC, 6 TD’s.

Three of those players are on the final ballot for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to college football’s best wide receiver. They are, in order, Brandin Cooks of Oregon State (Player #1), Mike Evans of Texas A&M (Player #2), and Sammy Watkins of Clemson (Player #3).

Player #4, who you can argue is the third best receiver on that list, is not on the final ballot for the Biletnikoff Award. You’ve probably already guessed it’s Allen Robinson. Penn State’s star junior has had arguably the best year for a receiver school history, and if it’s not, it’s second only to his performance last year.

However, players don’t get added to the final ballot for any award because of career achievement, they get added for their performance that year. This year, I would argue that Allen Robinson is one of the three best wide receivers in America.

Most of my argument is based on the fact that Robinson accounted for a higher percentage of his team’s catches and receiving yards than anyone else on this list. Robinson was responsible for 40 percent of Penn State’s receptions and 47 percent of the team’s yards. For context, Cooks was responsible for 30 and 36.5 percent, Evans for 21 and 33 percent, and Watkins for 27 and 31 percent.

What does this mean? It means that Robinson was a far bigger part of his team’s offense than any of the nominees. If an award is truly looking to honor someone who is the best at something, shouldn’t their impact on their team’s performance not only matter, but be one of the major factors into the decision? While Penn State wasn’t nearly as prolific of a passing team as Oregon State, Texas A&M, or Clemson, just imagine how much worse it would have been without Robinson.

I would also suggest that Robinson had less talent around him than any other nominee, which you can take one of two ways — that he had to do more than anyone else, or  his stats were inflated due to inferior talent. Due to the fact that two of the receivers — Evans and Watkins — played with Heisman-caliber quarterbacks, while Cooks played with quite possibly NCAA’s best passer, I’m going with the former.

Think about what was around Robinson: a true freshman quarterback, a solid but inconsistent group of running backs, and a group of wide receivers and tight ends that didn’t exactly register earth-shattering statistics. Other defensive coordinators knew exactly what Penn State tried to do in its passing game, throw the ball to Robinson, and yet they couldn’t stop it.

Here’s one last interesting stat — other than the team’s respective Biletnikoff candidates, Oregon State and Texas A&M both had three players with 30+ receptions and 320+ receiving yards, while Clemson had two such players. Penn State had none. Cooks, Evans, and Watkins were surrounded by other guys who were able to attract some of the attention from opposing defenses. Robinson wasn’t, yet he still put up cartoon-esque numbers.

None of what I argued was meant to take away from how excellent Brandin Cooks, Mike Evans, or Sammy Watkins have been this season. If you get the chance to watch their teams play, whether it be next weekend or during bowl season, make sure to keep an eye on them. The three are dynamic wide receivers that any team would kill to have.

However, when discussing the best wide receiver in America, Allen Robinson needs to be included. His production this year, especially when you remember the team around him, has been nothing short of astounding. If last year established Robinson as one of the best receivers in college football, this year cemented it. He’s the best wide receiver on Penn State, the best wide receiver in the Big Ten, and, for my money, one of the three best wide receivers in all of college football.

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