Don’t Sleep On Andre Robinson, Penn State’s Marshawn Lynch
Andre Robinson hasn’t played a down as a Nittany Lion, yet teammate Saquon Barkley already compared the redshirt freshman’s bruising playing style to “Beast Mode” himself.
“Andre, if I had to compare him to one back, it would be Marshawn Lynch,” Barkley said. “The way he runs; not the fastest guy, not the quickest guy, but just when you hit him, you’re gonna feel it and it’s gonna be hard to bring him down.”
Though Barkley is undoubtedly the feature back in Joe Moorhead’s new offense and true freshman Miles Sanders has scouts salivating at the potential one-two punch they could provide while lined up in the same backfield, Robinson’s expectations for 2016 stretch far beyond a footnote in the stat sheet. Robinson was impressive in his first Blue-White action, posting 44 yards on only seven carries, highlighted by a tight-rope score down the right sideline from 28 yards out.
The 5-foot-9, 212-pounder surpassed Buffalo Bills star LeSean McCoy for the all-time touchdowns mark at Harrisburg power Bishop McDevitt. Robinson had all the tools necessary to play as a true freshman last fall, but the emergence of Barkley allowed the coaching staff the luxury to develop him into a complete ballcarrier.
“I didn’t really expect to redshirt, but it definitely benefitted me — physically, mentally, as a person. I definitely got a lot more mature and ready,” Robinson said at Media Day this past Thursday. “I feel like I’m a lot better [prepared] to help the team now than I was last year.”
Robinson knows that it isn’t enough to simply blast through gaps in the defense or haul in screens off the edge; if you want play running back in the Big Ten, you have to be able to pass-block.
“That was a big thing that I tried to improve on in the spring, and I think towards the end of the spring, last couple practices, I started to do pretty well pass-blocking.”
The Mechanicsburg, Pa., native spent the spring and summer refining the more intricate details of the position with the help of now-departed transfer Akeel Lynch and redshirt sophomore Mark Allen. Lynch took Robinson under his wing before transferring to Nevada and the two remain close friends who constantly push each other to get better.
“[Akeel] helped us all so much, even towards the end when he wasn’t really playing that much, he kept his spirits up and was helping Saquon and helping the rest of us learn. He was one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around,” Robinson said. “We’re still good friends — I talk to him pretty often. I know he’s going to do well this year — he’s a great guy and a great back, so I wish him the best this year.”
Robinson thinks the change of pace that each of Charles Huff’s running backs bring to the table will only help the Nittany Lions wear down opposing defenses quicker.
“I think all the running backs bring a different aspect to the game. Coach Huff calls it our tool belt — what we do differently than everyone else,” Robinson said. “We all have something different — it all benefits the team and I think it will all help the offense score points this year.
“Obviously, we have a deep running back corps with a really good head on it. And we all just want to help the team, whether it’s special teams or it’s a play here and there to spell [Saquon] — whatever it takes to help the team win and accomplish our goals is what we are devoted to doing.”
Regardless of where Robinson lands on the post-camp depth chart, he’ll certainly get the chance to prove his worth as the thunder to Barkley and Company’s lightning. Skittles brand ambassador he is not, yet Robinson should punish defenses nonetheless with his own brand of downhill football.