If you ask a college football player about one of his teammates, he is going to praise that teammate for his work ethic, his ability or some combination of the two, without fail.
Allen Robinson had a game-high 87 receiving yards in the Blue-White Game.
If you want to know which players are really impressing their teammates, you have to let those teammates name the player, just as tailback Silas Redd did during the middle of Penn State's spring practice.
"Allen Robinson has really been turning some heads," Redd said. "The deep balls he's been catching, running past corners."
Robinson turned plenty of heads in Beaver Stadium during the Blue-White Game, catching three passes for a game-best 87 yards to cap a strong spring for the sophomore from Southfield, Mich.
"Allen has done a really good job," Penn State wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said. "He's shown what he can do from early weight-room workouts to on the field. … He's by far the most improved receiver."
Robinson came to Penn State without any of the fanfare that accompanied his Orchard Lake St. Mary's High School teammate Rob Bolden to campus but had a strong true freshman season in 2011. He played in 12 games, catching three passes for 29 yards.
In last week's spring scrimmage, the 6-foot-3, 199-pounder caught passes of 41 yards from Matt McGloin and 9 and 37 yards from Bolden. He was also targeted on four other occasions. Robinson looked comfortable in Bill O'Brien's new offense.
"I think everybody bought in and worked their butt off to learn the new plays," Robinson said, "and it paid off today."
Penn State moved slot receivers Curtis Drake and Bill Belton to different positions this spring, and top wideout Derek Moye graduated. Injuries to Devon Smith and Alex Kenney robbed the receiving corps of some of its big-play speed this spring (both are expected back this summer, though grades could be an issue for Smith as well) but created more opportunities for Robinson to showcase his abilities to the new coaches.
"It just gave us more reps," Robinson said. "It's the spring, so there wasn't really a depth chart. Everybody just worked, and then at the end of the day we ended up having I think five receivers today. We're all looking forward to the other guys to get back and get into the mix."
Robinson has also enjoyed working with Hixon, who spent the previous eight seasons coaching wide receivers in the NFL.
"He taught us a lot about perfecting our routes, coming out of our breaks, how we should run routes," Robinson said. "He helps with a lot of little things."