Heading into the 2012 season, any Penn State fan who didn't expect the receiving corps to be a liability was (not just prescient) drunk on blind faith. Derek Moye graduated, Justin Brown transferred, Devon Smith got himself kicked off the team, and Curtis Drake first switched to defense, then followed suit. All told, Shawney Kersey and his 5 receptions led all returning Nittany Lions, and as it turned out, he'd not be long for the Blue and White, either. We weren't going to be deep anywhere, but filling the receiver position would be a patchwork job at best, with a bunch of unproven, underwhelming, unrecruited, underclassmen.
Bill O'Brien's new, innovative system turned role players into stars, used the tight end more than any other team this side of Foxborough, and turned a stagnant, painful-to-watch offense into the Big Ten's most exciting. Sure, Zach Zwinak went from backup fullback to 1000-yard rusher, and Matt McGloin from insufferable moxie-monger to the conference's most consistent passer, but the best player on last year's offense returns for the 2013 season. And isn't Zach Zwinak.
As a sophomore, Allen Robinson did things no Nittany Lion receiver ever had, and it's not like his 3-reception 2011 season portended any greatness. He caught 77 passes--more than Moye and Brown combined the year before--setting a new Penn State record in the process. He led the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns--his 11 alone exceeding the ten passing touchdowns for Penn State in 2011--and finishing second to Bobby Engram in the school records in the latter two categories. He won the Big Ten's receiver of the year award, and it damn well better have been unanimous.
With O'Brien breaking in a new quarterback this year, the receivers are going to have to be even better. The timing might be off, and the throws might not hit targets in the numbers. Good thing Robinson's got a flair for the dramatic, hauling in more ridiculous leaping catches in one season than most receivers manage in a year.
Each of those words links to a separate image. I'm pretty sure any of them would look great on a magazine cover.
I know, guys, this is a weird place for us to be. We're Linebacker U, but we also point with pride to our standouts along the defensive line. We pride ourselves on a hard-nosed, Big Ten style that glorifies the offensive line, and celebrate our legacy of great running backs. To honor a wide receiver, those gloryboys, isn't something that comports with the old school ethos that is Penn State. But hey, these aren't your older brother's Nittany Lions. These are Bill O'Brien's Nittany Lions, and that makes them Allen Robinson's Nittany Lions.