It doesn’t take a lot of extrapolation to figure out that, yeah, redshirt freshman running back Adam Robinson is ahead of schedule.
He came in as a grayshirt recruit with few offers. He redshirted last season before being asked by coaches to switch to safety in the spring. If Jewel Hampton doesn’t tear an ACL, Robinson is No. 2 or maybe No. 3 on the depth chart going into this season.
Look at the 5-9, 205-pounder now.
He’s the third-leading rusher in the Big Ten with 80.2 yards a game. He and true freshman Brandon Wegher have combined for 541 yards (4.9 yards on 110 carries), which is more than running back tandems at Michigan and Ohio State. He’s also got four TDs and is second on the team in scoring with 24 points.
“I don’t think ahead of schedule, but definitely I was thinking I was going to get a shot later down the road,” Robinson said. “But doors open and that’s when things happen. This was going to happen, this was supposed to happen, I was just ready for my opportunity.”
And, yes, he is an “A-Rob,” but, no, don’t take it like that. He doesn’t call himself that. Everyone around him has since he was in grade school.
“Everybody calls him A-Rob,” said Des Moines Lincoln coach Tom Mihalovich, Robinson’s prep coach. “That was his nickname. Everybody called him that. I’ve known him since basically seventh grade, when he was at one of our basketball camps. I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get a gold helmet on him.’ Fortunately, he came to us. He’s been a great pleasure. He and his mom (Sally) are great people.”
Yes, Robinson is ahead of schedule, but it’s what he makes of this headstart that matters. So far, so good.
“He probably thought this year he’d be second or third guy off the bench, a back-up or something,” Mihalovich said. “And then it just happens. Injuries are part of the game. You get the opportunity, you need to take advantage.”
Mihalovich was obviously front and center for Robinson’s recruiting. Iowa and Northern Iowa offered. That was about it. After Iowa State changed coaches, the Cyclones lost interest.
Why weren’t there more offers?
“I think a lot of schools plugged in and thought, well, he can’t be that good with those specs,” Mihalovich said. “Coach (Reese) Morgan (Iowa assistant coach in charge of recruiting the state) and the Iowa staff came in and saw something. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz really liked Adam. There’s just something about him.
“Look what Iowa does anyway. You get guys who are walk-ons and some guys from eight-man football and they’re in the NFL. Sometimes, you can’t just put a guy’s specs in a computer and say, ‘Hey, he doesn’t run the 4.2 40 at that size and say this kid can’t play.’ I think that’s a lot to do with it. You can’t measure the heart. This kid is going to work his tail off and he’s got the tools.”
Robinson rotates with Wegher on every series. Four games in, they’re ahead of the pace Shonn Greene set for himself last season, when he broke Iowa’s season rushing record with 1,850 yards. In four games last year, Greene had 506 yards and four TDs. Robinson and Wegher are at 541 and six.
They’ve also combined to catch as many passes (eight) as Greene caught all last season. They have eight for 72; Greene had eight for 49.
That’s a pretty pace number for an Iowa running back, whose passing plays don’t extend much beyond checkdown receiver and screen passes.