UNIVERSITY PARK — Allen Robinson was a little known rookie, putting in extra hours at throwing sessions organized by his cousin, CFL quarterback Kevin Glenn near his hometown in Michigan.
That was five months ago.
Now? Robinson is the single season receptions leader for Penn State and has solidified his reputation as one of the Big Tens most effective downfield weapons making history and highlight play after highlight play against a leaky Indiana secondary on Saturday. Robinson, a sophomore, broke the previous record shared by Bobby Engram and O.J. McDuffie with his 64th catch of the season and his first during Penn States 45-22 win.
While the record-setting catch was not much to behold Robinson lost a yard on a bubble screen in the first quarter the young wideout was dominant for the rest of the game.
Robinson finished with 10 catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns to lead Penn States rout.
I think it means a lot, with the greats that have come through here who have played the receiver position, Robinson said.
So far, Robinson has shown enough promise to be considered one of the teams most dangerous athletes moving forward. A talented basketball during his days at St. Marys Prep in Orchard Lake, Mich. has consistently relied on the skills he honed on the hardwood to improve his football catching abilities.
I think thats something thats really has helped me out on the football field as far as running good routes, Robinson said. Im just so used to doing a cross-over, or playing defense and really changing direction. So I think thats a big thing that has helped me out, especially with running good routes.
Robinsons vertical leap was on display when he gained step on Indiana cornerback Brian Williams, jumped and reached over the Hoosier defensive back while flying backwards to haul in a 26-yard touchdown pass from Matt McGloin that was thrown at Robinsons back shoulder.
In the second quarter, Robinson used his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame to bull his way for another score. He caught another screen pass from McGloin, slipped out of a tackle near the line of scrimmage, then put his shoulder into another Indiana defender and spun out of that tackle attempt before racing to the end zone to complete the 53-yard score.
Later in the second, Robinson ran a slant toward the corner of the south end zone. McGloin fired the ball early. Robinson turned and came back to the ball to secure his third touchdown catch of the game.
Theres no doubt hes our best playmaker, McGloin said. You have to get the ball to him and he will make plays. He played one of the best games of his career today and hopefully he will finish strong next week and be one of the best wideouts in the nation probably, next year.
Although Robinson was kept out of the end zone for the rest of the game, he helped Penn State put Indiana away midway through the third quarter. After the Hoosiers cut Penn States lead to 28-22 with a field goal, Robinson ran another deep route, this time with just one man, Indiana safety Greg Heban, to beat.
While Heban was on him tightly, reaching and swinging for the ball as McGloin dropped it in nicely, Robinson still was able to come down with the catch good for a 42-yard gain that helped set up Zach Zwinaks one-yard run seven plays later.
I saw a lot of single coverage today, said Robinson, who said he thinks he can beat any man coverage scheme. Going against press, its something we practice a lot against, Im able to come out successful against that most of the time.
Robinson continues to lead the Big Ten in receptions (73), receiving yards (983) and touchdown catches (11). He has a good chance to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards next week when Penn State hosts Wisconsin.
There have been only two 1,000-plus yard receiving seasons turned in by Penn State players in program history, both by Engram.
Robinson needs just 101 yards next week to tie Engrams single-season receiving yardage record. Robinson is averaging just over 88 yards per game.
Hes a very unique athlete. He was a really good basketball player, Penn State coach Bill OBrien said. That translates well to the football field. Hes got good hand-eye coordination. He can jump. Hes got the ability to lower his weight and change direction on routes. The development under (wide receivers coach) Stan Hixon, who brings a lot of pro experience, how to run routes and how to work against different leverage has really helped Allen.
Follow Travis Johnson on Twitter @ traviswjohnson_.