Despite 72 points scored in the last two weeks combined, the Texas Longhorns have found themselves 4-3 through seven weeks with questions in abundance toward the projection of their program. While their offense has been nothing to scoff at, led by junior Casey Thompson, a defense that’s allowed 114 points over the last three weeks has progressed into the Achilles heel for the annually high-octane Longhorns.
Much of their offensive success has come via sophomore ball-carrier Bijan Robinson. A current leader among most conversations when arguing the top ‘back in all of college football, Robinson’s play through nearly three-quarters of Texas’ campaign has been nothing short of Heisman-worthy. With touchdowns in nine consecutive games, while their 4-3 record will cause heads to turn when discussing Robinson as a Heisman candidate, he’s been that good. His three-touchdown outing against Oklahoma State last week was the fourth such game he's had over the last two seasons—only Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State has more during that span with five—his 930 yards rushing are third in the country, and his 10 touchdowns through seven games have him on pace to finish among the illustrious list of Longhorn running backs for most touchdown scampers in a single season.
While pro comparisons have come in waves as to exactly who Robinson reminds scouts of when projecting his skill set at the next level, what makes him so special isn’t one area. Whether it’s his vision before the ball is in his hands, his agility and balance to maneuver through bodies both inside and outside the hashes, or his prowess in space as a pass-catcher, Robinson does it all and has quickly drawn the attention of one of college football’s most dominant backs of all-time.
“I see so much of myself in the way Bijan plays the game,” former USC standout Reggie Bush said. “I see a young, humble kid who’s destined for greatness that has the world at his fingertips.”
While it’s high praise from the 2005 Heisman Trophy recipient, it may not be enough, as Robinson has already begun to draw massive hype toward his draft stock when he becomes eligible next spring. A 6-foot, 214-pound combination of breakaway speed and elite power, Robinson is everything scouts desire in a bell-cow back on Sunday. The ability to not only shoulder a massive workload but to produce when 11 sets of eyes are centered on you presents a whole different breed of running back prospect.
Where Robinson sets himself apart is in the pass game, where his 14 catches for 207 yards both rank third on the Longhorns’ stat sheet, and his willingness to block in pass pro and shiftiness in his allotted route tree presents a weapon completely unique to the college game. And while the narrative of the past in that running backs aren’t worth a day-one or even a day-two selection with the position constantly refueled with talent each and every draft cycle, a peek at the current NFL rush leaders tells you everything you need to know on the importance of game-changing backfield talent, as Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott, Joe Mixon, and Jonathan Taylor (in order of rushing yards through Week 7) all were off the board by the end of the second round. And while the value of the position has decreased as teams have opted to acquire backs via trade or free agency instead of the annual event in late April, game-changing talent is hard to come by even in a day in age where impact players have entered the professional ranks in waves in their first season.
Robinson is an exception to the narrative. While the next 12-18 months will serve as a showcase as he runs wild on the Big 12, his name among NFL circles has become a commonality in just his sophomore season in Austin. Arguably the nation’s top pound-for-pound offensive prospect, Robinson has all the makings of the next big thing out of Texas.
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