IOWA CITY -- He calls his mom a "guardian angel." His goals are all team-oriented. He'd love to tell his doubters what he thinks but leaves it at what happens on the field.
Iowa running back Adam Robinson says all the right stuff. Take this quote about his mom, Sally, who raised him in a single-parent household in Des Moines.
"She's wonderful," the sophomore said Tuesday. "She's my guardian angel. She raised me by herself, single-parent home. She always provided for me and gave me what I wanted. She worked long hours, tough hours.
"That in itself speaks volumes about her character and her work ethic."
Take this thought on his doubters. There are a few, even in the wake of his start to the 2010 season.
Robinson is fourth in the Big Ten with 623 yards. His eight touchdown runs are tied for fourth in the league. His 129 carries are third.
Remember, Robinson is Iowa's last experienced back. It's Robinson and then freshmen Marcus Coker and Brad Rogers. The duo had a nice showing against Ball State and haven't carried the ball since. Fans clamor to see them. They worry about Robinson's durability, a valid concern given Robinson's 5-foot-9, 200 pounds.
Robinson says all the right stuff, does all the right stuff.
He hears the calls for the backups. It just makes the chip on this shoulder that much deeper.
"It kind of annoys me sometimes, because I get the feeling that I'm not good enough," Robinson said. "When I've had a good game, people are still looking for something else, somethign bigger, something better. It kind of annoys me, but then I think back to, 'hey, I'm in here doing it and they're not.'"
You never know.
Robinson's story at Iowa in a paragraph goes late grayshirt recruit to late full scholarship out of Des Moines Lincoln to short stint at safety in spring '09 to redshirt freshman backup to starter to the Hawkeyes' last running back standing.
Robinson was once off to Northern Iowa. Saturday, he'll be the counterpart to Wisconsin's feted running back duo of John Clay and James White when the No. 13 Hawkeyes (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) host No. 10 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1).
Clay (113.7 yards a game) and White (80.0), both of whom were heavily recruited by Iowa, are one of just two running back duos nationally to each average at least 80 yards a game.
Robinson is not the headliner here. But that's OK. He says the perfect thing, again.
"I'm just thankful to be in the position I am," Robinson said. "John Clay and James White, they're great backs. They deserve all the credit and accolades they get. I'm more concerned about helping the Hawkeyes.
"I'm not worried about what anyone on the outside thinks about me. I'm worried about what my team thinks about me."
You never know.
Iowa certainly didn't know, coach Kirk Ferentz admitted Tuesday, when it came to Robinson.
"You never know, you never know," Ferentz said. "If we knew, we probably would've offered him a scholarship sooner, if we knew what we had."
When a player is asked to switch positions, it means a meeting in Ferentz's office inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex. There's a waiting area filled with a glass case filled with watches from Iowa's bowls and championships. Then, you go in the main office.
Ferentz recalled the meeting with Robinson in spring '09.
"We were searching," Ferentz said. "Adam has always impressed us with his toughness. So, when you have a guy who's displaying something and you can balance a team out, it's a thought process you have."
There was a second meeting. This one to tell Robinson to go back to running back.
"He really didn't take to it the way we had hoped maybe," Ferentz said. "I could say the same thing about Shonn Greene."
Yes, that Shonn Greene, Iowa's season rushing leader, Doak Walker Award winner and current New York Jet. Iowa coaches tried him at safety late in 2006. Now, Greene might be the honorary captain this weekend with the Jets idle this week.
You never know.
Robinson is clearly a player who's had to prove himself. He may always be in that mode. This is where his background kicks in and pushes him beyond maybe where even he thought he could go.
"If anything, I think it made me stronger rather than handicapped me," Robinson said of growing up in a single-parent family. "My mom raised me to be strong and not to make excuses.
"I think anytime I face adversity, I approach it with an open mind and just know that I have what it takes to overcome any obstacle and that just comes from my mom."
Robinson is the kind of player who inspires. Rogers was thrust into last week's Michigan game at fullback because senior Brett Morse suffered from a sore back. Rogers was more than happy to go out and run head first into a linebacker for Robinson.
"As everyone can see, he's a humble person," Rogers said. "A humble person is a lot easier to block for than somebody who is on the top of the world and only think they exist. Adam is really humble. I like his mentality."
Now, from this height, which included last week's career-high 204 total yards in a victory over Michigan, Robinson could wag his finger at the doubters.
He could, but he doesn't, of course.
"I like to show that chip on the shoulder on the field rather than doing a bunch of talking," Robinson said. "I think actions speak louder than words in that way."
Says the right stuff. Does the right stuff.
You never know.
QUOTES for this post:
KF on Adam
At that time, can't remember our particulars, but we looked OK in the backfield. I can't remember the particulars at our safety position, but usually what that means is we felt pretty good about our running backs and felt like we might need some help on defense. So, it had to be before Tyler emerged, I'm guessing. -- We were searching. Adam has always impressed us with his toughness. So when you have a guy who's displaying something and you can balance a team out, it's a thought process you have. -- Switched back -- He really didn't take to it the way we had hoped maybe. I could say the same thing about Shonn Greene. -- Calvin Hill -- Never know -- You never know, you never know. If we knew, we probably would've offered him a scholarship sooner, if we knew what we had. I imagine a lot of other people would've, too. He's not Barry Sanders, but I think Barry Sanders had four offers. Iowa State, Wichita State, Okie State and I think Tulane. A lof of people missed that one, too. It happens. -- RB -- I think yes and no. The great ones are great ones. Adrian Peterson, they probably threw that out pretty quickly when he was in high school. I don't think they probably put him at safety. You see a lot more NFL running backs who come in the later rounds. -- Hitchens -- I hadn't thought about that. I hope you're right.
The main thing is someone turned down a scholarship here or didn't accept a scholarship or something like that. One opened up and coach Morgan called me one day after he offered me the grayshirt, which I accepted, and he said there was a full ride available and I obviously accepted it. Once I got here, I started working hard and tried to get on the field anyway I could. Another door opened for me and I just took advantage. -- I know when I got thrown in there at first, I started to catch on with the blitz pickups and the reads. A couple scrimmages and two camps ago, I had a couple really good runs, a couple really good blocks. Ever since then, they just kind of put me in there more and put more trust in me and it's been the same way ever since.
When's the last time you fumbled -- Umm . . . I want to say I had one early in camp this year. But other than that, I can't remember. -- I take a lot of pride in that. If I can hold onto the ball and not cause turnovers, that gives the offense and the team a big advantage over the other team. I think that was one of the determining factors against Michigan. They turned it over four times. We didn't turn it over. I think turnovers are huge. -- It wasn't ruled a fumble, but I had a close call against Arizona last year, when I dove over the pylon. I lost it and Brett fell on it. But they said I broke the plane before the ball came out. I had a close call, but that's the only one. -- No fumbles in high school. -- I don't really know what it is. I don't even think about holding onto the ball. It's just a natural thing, to hold it really firm and tight. I know when I get down there in traffic and people start grabbing, I hug it with two hands. I think that helps me when I get into the piles and people are trying to strip it. -- Superstitious, mad about the fumbling question -- No not at all. I'm not superstitious at all. I don't believe in any of that stuff. I think if you're determined to do something and work hard enough to do it, you can get it accomplished. That's what I do with fumbling. It's crazy. I don't even think about it when I'm running. It's just something I do.
Wag finger at doubters -- I do, but I like to show that chip on the shoulder on the field rather than doing a bunch of talking. I think actions speak louder than words in that way.
Came up through Des Moines city, lightly recruited.
First year of tackle football was eighth grade. First sports were baseball and basketball.
Lost by two to CRK in state quarters junior year. Late in December was offered grayshirt.
Out of bed -- I don't need help, but I'm definitely sore. I kind of walk around like an old man with a little limp, but I get over here and the trainers take care of me. -- Worst -- That's when I'm the most sore, Sunday morning.
Carries -- Coach Erb he's been alluding to it the last few weeks, telling me I'm going to get a lot of carries, so rest up. He's told me there's been a chance that Marcus could get in and to let him know if I get tired.
John Clay and James White -- I don't know. I'm just thankful to be in the position I am. John Clay and James White, they're great backs. They deserve all the credit and accolades they get. I'm more concerned about helping the Hawkeyes and things like. I'm not worried about what anyone on the outside thinks about me. I'm worried about what my team thinks about me. -- Imagine having 260 pounds to throw -- That would be nice. I always wanted to have a couple extra pounds. It's hard to gain weight, though.
Des Moines schools -- I did think I had something to prove. Not because I was from the Des Moines schools, but because I was one of the last guys picked up. I just wanted to come in and prove that I was capable of being a good athlete.
Goals, 1,000 -- Yes, but I don't like to get too caught up in it. I like to set goals for myself in things I want to accomplish, but at the same time, the goals I have for the team and for the season are more important than my personal goals.
Perfect stuff -- The coaches tell us to be smart with the media and tell us not to say things off the wall, but that's how I truly feel and that's why I say it. -- No Derrell -- I'm not even going to comment.
Get mom and high school coach -- Been a father figure. Mom and some others have always told me to be humble and appreciate what I get.
Single-parent -- If anything, I think it made me stronger rather than handicapped me. My mom raised me to be strong and not to make excuses. I think anytime I face adversity, I approach it with an open mind and just know that I have what it takes to overcome any obstacle and that just comes from my mom.
What is she like -- She's wonderful. She's my guardian angel. She raised me by herself, single-parent home. She always provided for me and gave me what I wanted. She worked long hours, tough hours. That in itself speaks volumes about her character and her work ethic. -- Learned lesson -- I carry it with me.Feel like you'll be respected the way your numbers say you should be -- It kind of annoys me sometimes, because I get the feeling that I'm not good enough, when I've had a good game, people are still looking for something else, somethign bigger, something better. It kind of annoys me, but then I think back to, hey, I'm in here doing it and they're not.