Iowa football's unsung hero

BY J.T. BUGOS | NOVEMBER 11, 2010 7:20 AM

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Adam Robinson is the unsung hero.

The leading rusher for Iowa's No. 34 scoring offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Robinson is largely overshadowed by quarterback Ricky Stanzi and his No. 3 rank in passing efficiency.

Maybe it's because Robinson gives credit to his offensive line more than himself. Maybe it's because he isn't starved for attention and credit. Or maybe it's because he doesn't eviscerate opponents with ankle-breaking jukes.

But Robinson is quietly one of the best running backs in the country.

"Adam Robinson, I think, is one of the most underrated running backs in the entire country," said Wes Bunting, the director of college scouting for the National Football Post. "He runs hard, good footwork. He has some shiftiness to him and explosion. He keeps [Iowa] ahead of the chains."

While his name doesn't ring loudly across the nation, Robinson — who is set to return to the starting lineup after sitting out last week's game with a concussion — isn't underrated in the Iowa locker room.

Tight end Allen Reisner and offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde both said Robinson is the engine of the Hawkeyes' offense.

"[Robinson] doesn't get all the credit, but he is pretty much the single back who has been running for the vast majority — probably 90 percent of our carries — for the last three or four games," Vandervelde said on Nov. 2, before Robinson missed the Indiana game with a concussion. "The fact that he's still putting up the same sort of numbers, still running just as hard as he was that first game, I think is really impressive."

Wide receiver Marvin McNutt noted Robinson lacks a high profile, but said the sophomore back, while not the fastest or strongest guy, simply can't be brought down.

"He's determined, and that's one thing you have to like about him," McNutt said. "He's a guy that you love having in the backfield because you never know what he's going to do."

What Robinson can do is rip off a 75-yard run, as he did against Iowa State, the game he ran for a career high 156 yards. He has also developed into a receiving threat, as evinced by his 32-yard touchdown reception against Michigan State.

His greatest asset, though, is his ability to find the smallest of running lanes.

"He's got a great feel, especially in tight areas, in a phone booth," Bunting said. "Good footwork, he runs with a low pad level and runs hard, so he protects his frame with that low pad level, and then he has enough shiftiness to make people miss or get defenders off balance. A better lateral athlete than people give him credit for. … He's got some wiggle to his game. "You either have it or you don't, and he's a natural runner with good instincts and size."

Robinson ranks 16th in the nation in rushing yards per game with 100.75 yards per game — ahead of more publicized running backs such as Oregon State's Jacquizz Rogers (100), Alabama's Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram (91.57), and West Virginia's Noel Devine (86.63). He has collected 10 rushing touchdowns, ranking 25th in the country.

Bunting projects the sophomore as a future NFL back once he fills out through his Iowa career, but for right now, Robinson will continue to simply do his job — with or without hype.

"He's kind of like the spark out there," Vandervelde said. "… Once the play is going, everybody has a role to play. And I don't think anybody plays his role harder or does it better than Robinson."

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