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Penn State receiver Robinson's got game, too

| Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 10:15 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson (8) goes up for a pass in front of Illinois defensive back Eaton Spence (27) during their game at Beaver Stadium on Nov. 02, 2013, in University Park.

A couple years before he established himself among the NCAA receiving leaders as well as Penn State's all-time wide receiver greats, Allen Robinson was attending high school about an hour from the Michigan State campus.

Robinson was recruited — not by a Spartans football program that was coming off a losing season as he began his senior year — but by a Michigan State basketball powerhouse that had been to the previous two Final Fours.

“They started to show a little more interest at the end of basketball season my senior year,” Robinson said of the two-time national championship program.

“But I was already signed and stuff to (Penn State) to play football. I really wasn't too interested at all. I was already confident in my decision to come here to play football.”

While we'll never know if the athletic, 6-foot-3 Robinson would have thrived as a lockdown-defending, driving-to-the-basket 2-guard for Tom Izzo, it's hard to imagine he could have been any better on a college hardwood than he is on the gridiron.

With 66 receptions for 1,043 yards through eight games this season for Penn State, Robinson is second in the nation in receiving yards per game (130.4) and tied for eighth in catches (8.3).

He has joined Bobby Engram as the lone Nittany Lions receivers to have two 1,000-yard seasons (no other Penn State receiver has any), and he is 11 catches away from tying the Penn State single-season receptions record.

The current record holder is Robinson, who had 77 last season after having just three as a true freshman in 2011.

With 37 receiving yards in the game at Minnesota on Saturday, Robinson would break Engram's 1995 single-season PSU record. With two touchdowns, he can tie Engram's record from 1993.

He's 33 receptions shy of Deon Butler's Penn State career record of 179 (Robinson currently sits fifth), and if he maintains his pace over the final four games of the season Robinson could finish in the top three of Penn State's career yardage and touchdown receiving lists.

“He's good, man,” Lions coach Bill O'Brien said flatly, before claiming to not be aware of Robinson's stature in any of the Penn State all-time record lists.

“I just learned that,” O'Brien said. “We don't talk about records.”

Robinson, too, sidesteps questions about his legacy among Penn State's greats in much the same way he's juked past so many defensive backs. He said he's talked with some of the Lions' legendary receivers of the past.

“Just to be in the conversation with those guys is a great honor and not something that's done every day, to be in the history books for a university like this,” Robinson said. “I try not to pay too much attention to it, but it's definitely a great honor.”

Robinson said a basketball background helps in football pursuits, most notably in breaking off routes and leaping ability. Robinson mentioned Cleveland State and Grand Valley State as Division I basketball programs who recruited him the hardest. Most Big Ten programs (including PSU) displayed only casual – if any – interest.

That also was the case for football. Minnesota was the only other Big Ten team to offer a scholarship.

It's safe to say the other teams regret now that he is torching them for an average of 10 catches and 148.8 yards against them this season.

Essentially, Robinson's assault on the Penn State record book has been done over 1 23 seasons.

A potential senior season to pad those numbers is a significant “if,” though, with Robinson playing like a high-round NFL draft choice.

Robinson repeated his stance that he wasn't thinking about whether he'll declare for the upcoming draft and won't until after the season.

“It's like a brotherhood with these guys, and we've come this far playing together,” Robinson said in support of staying in school. “So that is definitely one of the reasons. And first and foremost would be to get my (telecommunications) degree.”

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cadamski@triblive.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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