VIDEO: Postgame Locker Room Player Interviews - vs. Navy
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore wide out Allen Robinson looked like the type of player who could have a break out season during spring practice.
During training camp, the story was the same.
The Michigan native stepped into the No. 1 receiver role with nothing but confidence on the practice field.
That's why Robinson's outstanding start to the 2012 season comes as no real surprise to the coaching staff, Robinson or the rest of team, largely because they expected it.
Nevertheless, Robinson is quickly evolving into an elite receiver by anyone's standards. With 24 receptions and a 107-ypg average through three games, the true sophomore is leading the Big Ten and ranked 10th in the nation in both categories.
Robinson had a cumulative total of three receptions for 29 yards in 2011. This season, he has led the team in receiving during each of the first three weeks. After a 10-reception outing at Virginia last week, Robinson stole the show in Saturday's 34-7 victory over Navy with five catches for 136 yards, including a trio of touchdowns from Matt McGloin.
The always calm, cool and collected Robinson is a humble receiver who talks about the collective offense first before addressing any individual accolades. He attributed Saturday's big performance to the effort Penn State put forth on the practice field during the week.
"Coach O'Brien does a great job of game planning," Robinson said. "We saw a few things they did defensively and we were able to capitalize. There were some other receivers open as well and Matt [McGloin] connected with them as well. I think it was all about game planning."
Through just three games, Robinson is halfway to the school record in receptions for a sophomore. Bobby Engram (1993) and Deon Butler (2006) set the sophomore mark at 48. Penn State's all-time season mark for receptions is 63 held by O.J. McDuffie (1992) and Engram (1995).
"He has had a really good year through three games," O'Brien said. "I just think that he is a great kid who works extremely hard. Everything he is doing is because of the way he is coached by Stan Hixon and all of the hard work that he puts into it."
Hixon, who spends more time than anyone on the coaching staff with Robinson in the film room during meetings with the receivers, has watched Robinson grow from day one.
"Obviously he's made a big improvement from the spring, and from the spring we saw that he has potential to be a really good receiver," Hixon said. "Each and every day, he's getting better and better at running routes, coming out of routes, and also, a much better job catching the ball in his hands. He has done a good job getting separation in certain routes, like we ask him to do, and he's been a really good student of the game."
Robinson's emphasis during the offseason focused on becoming a better route runner. He and McGloin worked together all summer long on the practice field, and the results speak for themselves.
"He is very, very tough to cover because he does a great job of running routes," McGloin said. "That's probably his best attribute of being a wide out - the routes that he runs. It makes my job a lot easier."
Robinson is the type of player every head coach wants to mentor. Physically, the 6-foot-3 wide receiver is a gifted athlete, and that was obvious on Saturday when he raced into the north end zone during his 45-yard touchdown catch, but it is the little things that Robinson works on that separates him from other players.
"He's just a really good, young receiver," O'Brien said. "He works extremely hard at the game, studies the game. He's a fantastic kid; he's always got a smile on his face. Really, really enjoys playing here. He's just a fun guy to coach, like a lot of these guys."
He may be quiet when he speaks, but Robinson's game speaks loud and clear.
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