PSU receiver Robinson leaving school early for NFL
By Chris Adamski
Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 3:39 p.m.
As a high school freshman, Allen Robinson was tiny for a varsity football player. As a sophomore, a growth spurt led to back problems that prevented him from playing.
For a time at Orchard Lake St. Mary's High School in Southfield, Mich., Robinson was considered more of a basketball standout.
Today he's the reigning two-time Big Ten receiver of the year. Soon he will be a pro.
Robinson on Thursday announced he will forgo his senior season at Penn State and enter the NFL Draft.
“I'm proud of Allen, and I'm proud of how he handled himself at Penn State,” said Robinson's high school coach, George Porritt. “I think he's done everything in a good way there for the most part, hanging in there (in lieu of transferring), and he had some good coaching from Bill O'Brien and his staff. And that's led him to putting himself in a great position.”
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Robinson set school records this season as a junior with 97 receptions and 1,432 receiving yards, leading the Big Ten in both categories for the second consecutive year.
After discovering he was projected to be picked as early as late in the first round, Robinson elected to make the leap to the NFL.
“This is a decision that I believe is best for my family and I, and I wish all the best to the university and all my teammates,” Robinson said in a statement released by the university.
Minutes before, Robinson tweeted, “It was a honor to wear a penn state uniform for 3 years. I will miss my teammates and coaches, blessed for the opportunity and experience!”
After having just three receptions as a true freshman in 2011, Robinson flourished under O'Brien, who took over in 2012 and resigned this week to accept the head job with the Houston Texans. Robinson is the first player since at least 1985 to lead the Big Ten in receptions and receiving yardage in consecutive seasons, earning him numerous All-American honors.
“We are very excited for Allen,” Penn State interim coach Larry Johnson Sr. said in a statement. “Allen has meant a great deal to our program ... and we wish him all the best and continued success at the next level.”
Throughout this season, Robinson said he would take a couple of weeks after the season to consider his prospects.
ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench rates Robinson as just behind top prospects Sammy Watkins of Clemson and Marqise Lee of USC among receivers.
“He could be a late first-round pick, depending on how he runs (at the NFL Combine),” Muench said. “I would be surprised if he gets out of the second round.
“He has a chance to be a very, very, very good wide receiver. … He doesn't seem like the most explosive guy or the fastest guy on tape, but speed is an overrated thing when it comes to receivers. He gets off the line well and changes speeds well.”
Robinson's announcement induced the first meaningful public comments from quarterback Christian Hackenberg since O'Brien's departure became known.
“It was a pleasure playing with this dude, and I can't explain how happy I am for him,” Hackenberg said on Twitter with an accompanying photo of the two on Instagram. “Best of luck and keep climbing.”
Running back Bill Belton was among the more than one dozen teammates who took to Twitter to express support. “Dreams do come true!” he wrote. “Congrats to my bro (Robinson) sky's the limit.”
Staff writer Jerry DiPaola contributed to this report. Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.
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