A-Rob's Future Up in the Air

But Penn State's record-setting receiver has not even begun to think about the looming decision of whether to stay in Happy Valley for his senior season or to make an early exit to the NFL.

Allen Robinson said Tuesday morning he doesn't think much about the NFL, even though he looks every bit a pro wide receiver. And even though he has placed his named alongside the greatest players to ever man the position at Penn State.

The Nittany Lions' junior is -- wait for it -- “trying to take it one game at a time,” as he said during a conference call, not thinking ahead to whether he will enter April's draft.

But why stay beyond this season? He seemingly has nothing left to prove, seemingly has climbed every mountain, forded every stream. Why not go and get paid?

“One of the reasons would be to finish what I started with all my teammates,” he said. “It's like a brotherhood with these guys. We've come this far playing together.”

He also mentioned getting his degree, in telecommunications.

So jumping to the next level remains a back-burner issue, one he said he will discuss after the season with head coach Bill O'Brien and his position coach, Stan Hixon.

“I actually haven't really thought too much about it at all,” Robinson said. “I'm trying not to think too much about it.”

Rather, his focus is on the season's stretch run, which begins Saturday with a visit by the Lions (5-3) to Minnesota (7-2).

His resume grows more impressive by the week. He had 11 catches for 165 yards in the 24-17 victory over Illinois last Saturday, his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the year and the eighth of his career. It was also the third time in the last four games he has notched 11 grabs or more.

He now has 66 receptions for 1,043 yards this season, and leads the Big Ten in both categories by wide margins. Robinson is also the second player in school history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. The other is Bobby Engram, whose owns the single-season mark of 1,084 yards. With four games left, Robinson figures to blow that away, barring injury.

Robinson, fifth on the all-time reception chart and fourth on the all-time yardage chart, also figures to surpass his own record of 77 receptions, set last year.

Being mentioned in same breath as guys like Engram and O.J. McDuffie -- both of whom went on to NFL success, by the way -- is a “great honor,” Robinson said. But he seems to think not in grandiose, big-picture terms so much as a simple, direct fashion.

Coming into this season, he said, “My goal definitely was to be the best player I could be.”

It seems safe to say he has accomplished that. He had that miraculous leaping grab to set up the tying touchdown late in regulation of the four-overtime thriller against Michigan, then nearly duplicated it during an ill-fated drive late in regulation against the Fighting Illini.

“Nothing really surprises me with Allen,” O'Brien said after the latter game. “He's got a great poise about him. He doesn't get frustrated. He plays every play. He is very competitive in practice, which I think really helps him be the player that he is. He never takes a practice off. He practices every day.”

And he does that, O'Brien said, despite the bumps and bruises that are bound to accumulate in the course of a season.

“I think that means a lot to our team,” the coach added.

Robinson's story is well-known by now. At Orchard Lake St. Mary's Prep in Michigan (also the alma mater of former PSU quarterback Rob Bolden, now at LSU), he was known as much for his exploits in basketball as football. But the schools most interested in him for hoops were Cleveland State and Grand Valley State; Big Ten teams like Michigan State and Iowa were only lukewarm.

In the meantime his football career steadily gained momentum. He mostly played running back until his junior year of high school, then progressed so much that PSU wooed him. He said it wasn't hard to leave basketball behind, that he never, for instance, wanted to double up once he arrived in State College.

“I was getting more (recruiting) interest in football than basketball,” he said. “I had some basketball interest, but definitely a lot more in football. It wasn't too much of a decision at all. I knew where my future was. I accepted it and went with it. I was comfortable with that.”

Now there are questions about his immediate future, questions he will answer only in time.

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