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Alabama's Brian Robinson could have 67-game college career
Chattanooga Times Free Press - 3/25/2021
Mar. 25—Imagine playing 67 games in a college football career.
Alabama fifth-year senior running back Brian Robinson is going to give it a try.
After serving the past two seasons as the primary backup to Najee Harris, the 6-foot-1, 228-pounder from Tuscaloosa elected to use the NCAA's extra year of eligibility that was awarded after the outbreak of the coronavirus. Robinson helped clinch Alabama's sixth national crown under Nick Saban by rushing 10 times for 69 yards in January's 52-24 thrashing of Ohio State in the title game of the four-team playoff.
When the Crimson Tide kick off their 2021 season against Miami in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it will mark the 53rd career contest for Robinson, who could reach 67 by staying healthy and if Alabama plays a 15-game schedule for a fourth time in seven years.
"I just saw many opportunities for me as far as investing time this year to become a better player and to have some improvements with draft grades and whatnot," Robinson said this week on a Zoom call. "I just felt there were many opportunities for me to win this year, and I'm all in for it."
Robinson was a four-star signee in 2017 but was quickly overshadowed by classmates such as Harris, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the receiving trio of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith. He will enter his extra season having rushed 274 times for 1,361 yards (5.0 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.
His best season occurred last year, when he amassed 483 yards and six scores on 91 carries (5.3), and Robinson realizes his lengthy college stint has not been accompanied by significant wear and tear.
"I've been taking really good care of my body over the years here," Robinson said, "so I feel pretty fresh for the most part. I don't have any injuries or nagging injuries, so I feel good."
In addition to last season's solid showing against Ohio State, Robinson had productive outings against Texas A&M (10 carries for 60 yards), Ole Miss (10-76) and LSU (11-62).
After the national championship game, Robinson sat down with Saban to go over plans for 2021. Saban told Robinson there would be more opportunities in next year's draft and said that he was welcome to return.
"I think this really says a lot about his maturity and understanding that if he came back, he would have a more significant role, get to play more and get to show people what he's capable of and what he can do," Saban said. "When he did play last year, he played extremely well for us, and I was really pleased. He just didn't play that much, and it really wasn't his fault.
"Najee was one of those guys who the more he played and the more he ran the ball the better he got, so he wasn't one of those guys you wanted to take in and out of a game all the time. He would get on a roll, and I think that affected B-Rob's playing time a little bit."
NFLDraftScout.com pegged Robinson as either a seventh-round selection or a nondrafted free agent had he decided to make himself eligible for the 2021 draft, so the extra year can only help, especially if he can prove himself to new running backs coach Robert Gillespie and behind new starting quarterback Bryce Young.
"I feel like our offense is stacked with talent," Robinson said. "Obviously we have some guys who have to step up into some major roles this year, but I'm excited for our unit and what our unit can grow into this spring."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.
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