Auburn University Tigers
Thibodaux High School
Offensive linemen are usually the least recognized players on the football field – unless your favorite quarterback gets sacked or a line judge tossing a flag. Offensive tackles are built more in the lines of the great redwood trees, but have the daunting task of protecting the quarterback's blind side and normally operate on an island, regularly going one-on-one with the speedier edge rushers.
In the land of "redwoods," Robinson stands even taller. In the age where edge rushers have the speed to beat most of those big tackles, Robinson has even more quickness than the defender he is assigned to cover. Combine his size, speed, power, incredibly long wingspan, large "mitts" for hands and sheer determination to dominate, and you can see why this Tiger in just two seasons on the college gridiron has emerged as a rarity – a "franchise" blocker in the mold Cleveland's Joe Thomas, with a dash of Hall of Fame standouts Jonathan Ogden (Baltimore) and Walter Jones (Seattle) sprinkled in.
Making the transition from talented redshirt in 2011 to dominating blocker and first-round draft choice in 2014 has been a work in progress for Robinson. A player who didn't begin playing offensive tackle until his junior season in high school, he will leave Auburn after having one of the top seasons in school history for an offensive lineman. Through it all, he has kept a smile on his face all the while working on his craft. Now it is paying off and he said that his time as a Tiger will always hold a special place in his heart.
Before he began dominating the action in the trenches vs. Southeastern Conference opponents, Robinson attended Thibodaux High School, where he toiled as a defensive tackle until his junior year. Shifted to the other side of the ball, Robinson's junior year was an eye-opener, especially for a player who had never played on the offensive line before.
To call Robinson's performance that year as dominant would be an understatement. He earned All-Southern honors from the Orlando Sentinel, All-State recognition and was regarded as the premier blocker in the Class 5A-District VIII ranks. The Tigers rushed for 26scores in 2009, as Robinson delivered 19 touchdown-resulting blocks from the offensive guard position.
The best was yet to come. The 2010 campaign was another dominant show by Robinson, as he collected 146 knockdowns and 20 touchdown-resulting blocks. Honors began pouring in as Robinson received a four-star grade from Scout.com, as that recruiting service regarded him as the seventh-best offensive guard in the prep ranks. He also made the Orlando Sentinel's All-Southern Team as a first-team selection for the second consecutive year.
Robinson signed his national letter of intent to attend Auburn University on Nov. 12, 2010, becoming the coveted prize recruit secured by Trooper Taylor and Jeff Grimes for the Tigers. The lineman would spend his first season at the school redshirting in 2010.
After a year of adjusting to college life and college football, Robinson entered 2011 fall camp announcing that he was ready to take the next step forward and by the end of that season. It proved to be his "coming out" party.
The Tigers were in transition, especially on the offensive line, where both starting tackles had graduated after 2011. There were no veterans ready to step in and replace them, leaving the door wide open for a young player like Robinson to step in and secure a starting spot. Standing 6-foot-6, 315 pounds with a lot of natural ability, Robinson easily secured a starting job at the vacant left tackle spot. It was a long overdue opportunity for him to step on a college football field.
Accomplishing that goal while the team slumped through a 3-9 season did not stop Robinson from playing at the high level he showed as a senior in high school. "Being able to play is something I had been waiting on for a long time after watching from the sidelines in 2011," he said during his red-shirt freshman campaign. "I was just anxious to get the shot to play."
Being able to be a starter was also a big deal for another reason, Robinson points out. "I wanted to give my family something to look forward to when they come to the games," he said. With the Tigers' passing game virtually nonexistent in 2012, finishing 114th among 120 major college teams with an average of 156.58 aerial yards per game, what limited success the team had in reaching the end zone came through the paths created by their left tackle. Auburn scored 16 times on the ground, with 13 of those scores coming with Robinson leading the way.
The 2013 season brought a massive change in the culture at Auburn. Former assistant, Gus Malzahn returned to the campus as the Tigers' new head coach and immediately reinstalled his fast-paced offensive attack. In order for his system to work, he needed big, physical, yet cat-quick bookend tackles. Gazing at his roster, he saw he had that pair in Robinson manning the left side and redshirt freshman Avery Young ready to fill the void on the right side.
The two tackles became immediate friends, sort of a clone of each other. But, as Young tells it, there is no player that he has seen who can match Robinson sheer athletic ability.
Young, an impressive blend of size and athleticism himself on the right side of the line, calls Robinson one of the most athletic linemen he's ever seen, and Young's older brother, Willie, is a defensive end with the Detroit Lions. "Greg's a beast," Young said. "He's so strong. At the same time, he's so athletic. The only person I know who can do back-flips at his size."
Imagining a man as big as Robinson having the kind of explosion necessary to propel his bulk into the air, make a full rotation and land safely seems like the kind of feat that requires the harnesses and wires used to turn actors into superheroes on-screen. But that's the kind of tall tale Robinson inspired during his second season as a starter, a season that turned Robinson into a potential top-10 NFL Draft pick.
Robinson earned All-American and All-Southeastern Conference honors in 2013. He had 172 knockdown blocks, most by clearing rush lanes for a pair of Tigers ball-carriers that each gained 1,000 yards on the ground, just the third time in school history multiple players reached the 1,000-yard level in the same season. The left tackle's accoades as a "man playing against boys" had scouts flocking to campus in droves. What they saw was this youngster producing a national-best 25 touchdown-resulting blocks. Auburn would capitalize on that blocking prowess to lead the nation in rushing (4,596 yards) and rank 12th in scoring (553 points) on the way to a meeting vs. Florida State in the BCS Championship Game.
Earning that All-American honor did not surprise Robinson's teammates, as they all were the left tackle's biggest fans. Incredibly explosive off the line, Robinson was more than any opponent could handle, and the Southeastern Conference is blessed with elite talent. Yet, it was Robinson who was regularly tossing SEC defensive linemen out of the way like rag dolls for the nation's best rushing attack.
On an offensive line that can stake a good claim to being the nation's best, Robinson was the one who stood out when the NFL scouts headed into the film room. Auburn, like most teams, keeps track of knockdown blocks, but Robinson may need his own category, his teammates say. Robinson destroys people, sometimes taking out two defenders on the same play.
"If he's not a first-team All-American, I'd like to see the guy who is," left guard Alex Kozan said. "A lot of guys who've had hype and exposure coming into the season, I guarantee, if you watch the tape, truly watch the type, Greg pops out. That's why he's got a great future ahead of him."
The next stop on Robinson's journey to the National Football League took place in late February, at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Checking in at 6-5, 332 pounds, he was one of the hottest names among the participants when the action started at Lucas Oil Stadium.
By the time things were finished, all Robinson had done was cement himself at the top of the 2014 NFL Draft with his performance.
Running the 40-yard dash in 4.92 seconds to blow away doubters who weren't sure what to expect from him, Robinson backed that up with 32 reps in the bench press and a 28 1/2-inch vertical jump. Those numbers might have surprised NFL coaches and scouts, but they didn't come as a surprise to Robinson himself.
"That was my plan going into it, knowing I had one shot so I was going to give it my all," Robinson tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "It was a good thing that they were looking at me. At Auburn they were looking at me, but they were focused on the Tre Masons and the Nick Marshalls. It was just fun. I did everything here for my teammates and I was successful. For them to give me so much attention now I didn't want to let anyone down. I know everybody expected me to be nervous because all eyes were on me. I just had fun with it and tried my best to enjoy it."
The performance on the field wasn't the only thing that Robinson had to live up to while at the combine. In meetings with teams and also going through a range of tests given by the NFL, the talented redshirt sophomore lineman said while it was crazy at times he wouldn't change anything about his opportunity. "It was just a great experience," he said. "It was once in a lifetime. I just looked at it like I only had one shot."
"The process was kind of overwhelming just waking up so early and doing everything they had us doing, but it was very structured. I was used to it because Auburn prepared me for that. As far as enjoying it, I enjoyed every moment of it just meeting all the new people and interviewing with the teams and getting to hear what they thought about me. It was just a wonderful experience. ... I'm just ready for the draft because that is the end point of all this. I'll find out where I am finally and go forward with my hard work ethic and try to get better everyday. I'm just ready to go."
Robinson started all 26 games that he played in at Auburn University, manning the demanding left offensive tackle position…Among the 64touchdown runs recorded by the Tigers the last two years, Robinson 38 touchdown-resulting blocks, adding 292 key blocks/knockdowns.