Snapshot: Adrian Robinson

Adrian Robinson caused a stir within the organization this spring with his quick first step and apparent pass-rush skills. But there was one big question. SCI publisher Jim Wexell investigates.

Back in college, they called him "Rush." And in his first spring in the NFL, Adrian Robinson showed that nickname to be appropriate.

An undrafted rookie pass-rusher from Temple, Robinson showed his quickness to Marcus Gilbert and the other right-tackle candidates throughout the spring as the Steelers' coaching staff marveled at Robinson's first-step quickness. But whenever sources revealed their excitement about the 6-1, 252-pound outside linebacker, they universally asked one question:

"But what does it mean right now?"

True enough.

What does it mean when a hopped-up rookie runs past a veteran right tackle with a sore shoulder? In only helmets and shells? Without the go-ahead to hit the quarterback even if he could? What does it mean for a "Rush" man to succeed in May?

"I don't think it means that much," Robinson said on June 5. "I think we'll see when the pads get on.

"I mean, I like how I'm performing right now. I'm getting good feedback. It's just really good to be out there. Yeah, I'm beating the tackles but I want to see what it's like with the pads on."

Robinson was an All-MAC first-team performer for Temple last season. He led the Owls with 13½ and 6½ sacks as a 4-3 defensive end. His best performance came in a win over Miami (Ohio) in which Robinson made 7 tackles, had 2 sacks and returned an interception 14 yards.

The Steelers, who were at the game, admitted that game impacted their view of Robinson.

"The scout told me that," Robinson said. "He said he loved my intensity in that game."

Did Robinson think the Steelers would draft him? Or sign him after the draft?

"They really came in blind," Robinson said. "I didn't know what they were going to do. I was hearing fifth through seventh, sometimes I heard free agent. I'm just really happy to be here. I'm really humbled and grateful for just the opportunity."

Robinson's green eyes reflected that happiness, but he admitted he wasn't a Steelers fan growing up in Harrisburg. He was – and don't hold this against him – a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

"My father was a Redskins fan and my little brother was an Eagles fan," Robinson said. "So by rooting for the Cowboys we had that whole division in our house. Now everybody's a Steeler fan. If my little brother makes it to the league we'll be happy to cut it down the line." Avery Robinson is a freshman defensive tackle at Temple. He followed the path his brother's had blazed out of Harrisburg High, which made it to the PIAA semifinals in the largest classification in Pennsylvaia two consecutive years.

In those two years, Adrian Robinson Jr. compiled 33 sacks. He was also a standout wrestler who was 33-3 as a junior but who skipped his senior season in order to bring up his grades as he pursued a football scholarship.

"Through midseason of my senior year they still had me the top-ranked heavyweight when I was 200 pounds – and I didn't even come out for one match," Robinson said.

Robinson was recruited by Michigan, Virginia, Pitt, West Virginia and UConn, among others. Pitt offered him a scholarship, "but I liked Temple," he said.

Robinson played in the Big 33 Game that summer and was named the game's MVP with 10 tackles, 3 sacks and a blocked punt. It was the last time Pennsylvania beat Ohio in the all-star game.

Robinson helped turn Temple into a winner, too. He made three starts as a freshman and then broke out as a sophomore when he led the MAC with 13 sacks and also led Temple with 14 tackles-for-loss and 5 forced fumbles. He was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year (2009) as Temple finished 9-4 for its first winning season in 19 years and went to its first bowl game (Eagle Bank Bowl loss to UCLA) in 30 years. MAC offenses began to pay more attention to Robinson in his junior season. He had only 3½ sacks and 4½ tackles-for-loss as Temple went 8-4 in 2010.

Last year, Robinson, as team captain, returned to his first-team All-MAC status of his sophomore season with 6 ½ sacks and 13 ½ tackles-for-loss.

He finished his college career – a career in which he played in every game – with Temple's second-ever bowl win, a 37-15 pummeling of Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl. It capped off a 9-4 season and put Robinson's won-loss record at Temple at 31-19. Temple had won only 32 games in its previous 15 years.

As a pass-rusher, Robinson had 23 sacks with nearly all coming as a defensive end. He comes to the Steelers as another linebacker conversion project.

"It seems like nobody remembers, but my junior year I played a little bit of outside linebacker," Robinson said. "The difference now with the Steelers is this is more of an outside linebacker/defensive end thing. It's really nice. I really like it. They just let you play. That's what I like about this whole scheme."

He said he was up to 252 this spring from his 240-245 in college. It didn't affect his speed, or his first step, "but I feel better about my strength," Robinson said.

What has he been hearing from his coaches?

"The coaches give me compliments," he said. "Everybody's giving me compliments, but I'm just really listening to Wood. He's a great mentor. LaMarr Woodley is a great guy, and he just took me under his wing. I really appreciate it."

Robinson only needs wait another week to begin answering the rest of the questions.

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