Freshman running back Robinson settling into offense, not ready for Williams comparisons

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Texas Athletics

Bijan Robinson has lived up to the hype so far in his freshman season. 

The Texas running back rushed for his first 100-yard game as a college athlete in a 17-13 win over West Virginia Saturday and leads the Longhorns’ running backs in total rushing yards this season, with 294. He was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Monday. 

Robinson’s coaches and teammates all believe he has the opportunity to be a truly “special” running back at Texas. Head coach Tom Herman has raved about his ability, and senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger has gushed over how fun Robinson is to watch. In Saturday’s win over the Mountaineers, the freshman exploded for a 54-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. 

On the next drive, Robinson spun off a tackler as he bounced a power run to the edge, stiff-armed a pair of defenders and hit the sideline for 18 yards. It was just a glimpse of what the freshman, making his third career start, would do to the Mountaineers. 

“Bijan is such an exciting player,” Ehlinger said after the win over West Virginia. “Obviously still a freshman, so has a lot of growth to go, but he’s starting to show his natural ability and the game’s starting to slow down for him. I can’t even imagine what type of player he’s going to be.”

The Arizona product finished with 151 total yards of offense and averaged nearly 11 yards per touch in a performance that drew comparisons to Ricky Williams, Texas’ all-time leading rusher and Heisman-winning running back. 

But Robinson isn’t ready for the comparisons to Williams just yet.

 

“Ricky Williams is a legend,” Robinson said after Saturday’s game. “I’m still just a freshman and just trying to find my way in college football. I have so much work to do as a young guy.”

Statistically, it would be difficult for Robinson to close in on Williams’ 6,279 career rushing yards and 75 total touchdowns at Texas, even with repeats of Saturday’s performance. Despite having 75 rushing yards on four carries in the first quarter, Robinson only received one carry in the second quarter. 

Herman said after the game that Robinson “is not used to a 20, 25-carry day” and that he didn’t want to put “too much weight on his shoulders.”

Robinson said he doesn’t care about carries regardless of how well he plays or if he plays at all. He just wants to help the team win.

“I’m good where coach (Herman) needs me,” Robinson said. “If that’s 20 carries, that’s fine. I don’t really focus on that, I just focus on trying to make this team better any way I (can). We’ve still got (sophomore and junior running backs) Roschon (Johnson) (and) Keaontay (Ingram), and we all need to share the ball together and work with this offense as well.”

Regardless of how he’s used, all signs point north for Robinson moving forward. He said Saturday the game is finally starting to slow down for him and that he’s just starting to add new tools, like his first-quarter spin move. 

“For me, it’s just finding holes, finding the offensive line, finding the gaps,” Robinson said. “I feel really comfortable with this offense. At first, I was just trying to get a feel for this game, but I had to keep slowing down. With the speed of the game, it’s looking good. It’s looking good.”