As the leading receiver in the Big Ten, Penn State sophomore Allen Robinson has exceeded nearly everyone's expectations in 2012. One not surprised, however, has been Nittany Lions receiving coach Stan Hixon.
Hixon's receivers have produced in 2012.
"He really has not," Hixon said when asked if he has been caught off guard by Robinson's 57 catches, 689 yards and eight touchdowns this year. "Just working with him in the spring, I kind of knew right off the bat that he was one of our better receivers."
At that point, Robinson was a youngster playing behind Justin Brown and coming off of a three-catch freshman year. After a few weeks, he made a switch.
"By the middle of spring, Allen had improved so much that we put Allen at the starting receiver where he's at now and put Justin Brown on the other side," explained Hixon. "We knew that Allen had a chance to be a really, really good player.
"He's nowhere near where he's going to be, but obviously he's off to a great start. He's learning as we go, certain things have happened to him in the games and in practice that he's handled real well. The more looks he gets, the better he's going to be. He's tall, he's strong and he's fast.
"He's on par, but he's going to be a lot better than he is right now."
Robinson hasn't been the only Penn State wideout to make strides in the last month, as opposite starter Brandon Moseby-Felder has hauled in 19 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown over the last four games. With second-leading receiver Kyle Carter sidelined against Purdue, Moseby-Felder had a career day, catching six passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.
"Brandon has really improved, he's playing faster and his route running has really improved," Hixon emphasized. "Really in spring ball, he might have been there for five or eight days with a hamstring. Then in summer he wasn't full speed when we started camp. The first three or four weeks in the season is when he started hitting stride.
"The more balls they catch, the more confidence that they have. The thing about Brandon is that he's probably one of the older guys that we have at that position. Brandon's probably the leader of the group age-wise.
"He's been telling me all along how good he was. With me, it's 'OK, we'll see what you can do.' I think he's really taken advantage of the opportunity."
Managing a group of receivers that have stayed relatively healthy this season, Hixon has juggled playing time at all three spots. Most recently that has resulted in more playing time for freshman Trevor Williams and fewer reps for redshirt sophomore Alex Kenney.
"Alex, he still plays, and he'll play even more this game based on what we're doing in the offense. There's some of the stuff that Trevor has done a little bit better than Alex," said Hixon.
"Alex has the speed. His history, if you know, is that he was a running back in high school and he came here and redshirted and played DB. So he's making the transition to wide receiver and slot receiver.
"There's certain personnel groupings that fit Alex and certain groupings are Trevor. It happens to be that more personnel groupings have been Trevor than have been Alex. But both of them are going to play and play quite a bit."