AMES — By the sound of it, Alexander Robinson is the Chris Berman of the Iowa State Cyclones, the man who bestows contemporaries with ridiculous nicknames.
“I nicknamed (freshman) Shontrelle (Johnson) ‘The Rabbit,’ ” Robinson noted recently. “You ever try to chase a rabbit? They’re jump-cutting all around and all over the place — that’s Shontrelle.”
Robinson is probably long-overdue for a unique moniker of his own — something a little more elaborate than ‘A-Rob.’ Considering his penchant for ripping off long runs, “Coast-to-Coast” might make sense.
But “The Locksmith” might be more appropriate. After all, Robinson holds the key to unlocking the full potential of Iowa State’s offense. And, he could come to the 1-0 Cyclones’ rescue this week, when they visit the ninth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (1-0).
Consider: the Cyclones were 5-1 last year when Robinson rushed for 100 yards or more. Furthermore, ISU is 8-1 since the start of last season when their star rushes for at least 80 yards in a game.
So, Robinson isn’t overly concerned with the vaunted Hawkeyes this week. He just wants to handle the rock — repeatedly.
“I try to play my game, regardless of who’s on the other sideline,” said Robinson, who will try to out-duel another “A-Rob” — Iowa’s Adam Robinson — this Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.
It’s not that Iowa State’s star rusher doesn’t respect the black and gold. He simply carries himself with confidence.
The Cyclones’ “A-Rob” knows he’s a weapon that, if given enough opportunities, will ignite his offense more often than not. The entire Cyclone contingent shares that confidence.
“Alexander,” said head coach Paul Rhoads, “he’s gonna be around for all sixty minutes of the game. Sometimes he appears to be running tentative and very methodical … then, it all of a sudden becomes five and eight-(yard runs), and occasionally, a sixty-three-yard run.
“He catches the ball very well. He understands leverage,” Rhoads added. “He picks things up in pass protection. He’s a very intelligent player — a very cerebral young man.”
Robinson shrugged when praise was passed his way this week. The Minneapolis native simply believes he and his teammates are more comfortable this season with coordinator Tom Herman’s no-huddle attack.
“We’re just getting sharper,” said the senior. “I think that comes from being in year two of the system, and having a better grasp of it.”
Robinson hopes his diligence pays dividends this week.
We know this much, for certain: the Iowa State program will benefit from Robinson’s time in Ames long after his departure. His time at ISU, after all, hasn’t been all about doling out silly nicknames.
“He’s been showing us the ropes. And, by him teaching me, I feel like I already have an edge,” Johnson said of Robinson, who could finish as high as third on ISU’s all-time rushing chart.
“Since day one of getting here, A-Rob’s been like a football father to us.”