James Robinson burst onto the Rockford football scene at Lutheran establishing himself as a great running back even as a freshman. This past Saturday night he did something similar. He wasted no time showing Illinois State fans what he can do even as a freshman.
It was late in the second quarter of the Redbirds’ game with Valparaiso. Robinson took a little dump pass and then showed the form that made him the IHSA’s all-time rushing leader. He cut back through the Valpo defense and then turned it on going 33 yards for his first college touchdown.
“I just saw an open field, and I saw that everyone was flowing to me, so I just cut it back,” says Robinson. “Then I saw a couple linemen coming back my way, so I cut around them and they made a good block, and then I just…it was an open field so I took it and ran.”
Robinson didn’t get to keep the game ball as a souvenir. That’s fine. There should be plenty more touchdowns in his future.
Robinson’s first carry of the game also was memorable. That was a 13 yard run toward the sideline early in the second quarter.
Robinson says he wasn’t experiencing any nerves for his first college game.
“I felt pretty comfortable all the way. I thought I would be really nervous, but I really wasn’t. Just do what I did in practice. Come out and bring it out on the field.”
At Lutheran Robinson was a workhouse. At ISU, at least for now, he’s part of a committee of four running backs who will rotate.
“I thought all along we had pretty good backs, and I think it proved out tonight,” said ISU coach and Rockford native Brock Spack after the game. “All four of them played well I thought. They all had their moments and we’re going to need them throughout the season.”
“I’m fine with the rotation really,” says Robinson. “All of us can be fresh going into that next game. Then we always have fresh legs in the game instead of wearing someone out.”
Robinson says in college now he’s more focused on the little things that it takes to become a great running back…like ball security.
“You always have to have the ball high and tight and work on your cutbacks and everything else. It’s just a lot of little stuff that in high school we didn’t really work on that you work on here.”
This Saturday Robinson and the Redbirds will travel to Evanston to face Northwestern.