After Iowa running back Jewel Hampton tore his ACL in the Arizona game earlier this season, Hawkeye fans feared that 2004 was happening all over again.
That year Iowa's top four running backs were injured, thrusting walk-on Sam Brownlee into the starting role. In short, the Hawkeye running game was virtually non-existent that season.
Back in August, another 2004 disaster seemed nearly impossible. Iowa had nine scholarship running backs on its roster, three of whom had a considerable amount of game experience.
But during camp, sophomore Brandon Wegher, the star of last year's Orange Bowl, left the team and likely will not return. Then, during the Arizona game, Hampton tore his ACL for the second year in a row.
Suddenly, the deepest unit on the Iowa team was on thin ice and Iowa's three-headed monster at running back was left with one man standing: Adam Robinson.
Of the three starters, Robinson was the most tested, but the least hyped. He set an Iowa freshman record with 834 rushing yards, but many considered the "more athletic" Hampton and Wegher to be the future of the program.
But Adam Robinson just kept running; on the field and out of the limelight.
But that's just how his entire football career has gone.
Robinson was a little known two-star recruit out of Des Moines Lincoln High School. He didn't receive offers from any other FBS programs and only received a grayshirt offer from Iowa, meaning he had to wait until January 2009 to go on scholarship.
Heck, the only reason he even received an offer is because the Iowa coaches discovered him when they went to watch somebody else.
Robinson started his career at Iowa as a defensive back, but was switched to a running back before the 2009 season.
He and Wegher split carries last season and Robinson gained a reputation as a powerful back, while Wegher was considered the speedy, finesse player.
After Wegher announced he was leaving, fans expected Hampton to take over his role. But in the opener, Robinson was Iowa's starter and most efficient rusher. He ran for a (then) career high 109 yards and three touchdowns. A week later against Iowa State, he rushed for 156 yards on an outstanding 11.1 yard average.
But the real test came after the Arizona game.
Ferentz announced that Robinson would receive almost every carry from that point on. And again, critics questioned Robinson. Was he durable enough? Could he handle a beating for the entire game?
Robinson answered tremendously.
Since the game in Tuscon, he has touched the ball at least 20 times per game, averaging 107.2 yards in each of the five contests.
Against Michigan two weeks ago, he put together a player-of-the-year type performance, erasing any doubt that he could singlehandedly carry the Hawkeye rushing attack by himself.
Robinson carried the ball 31 times against the Wolverines for 143 yards and two touchdowns. One powerful run on third and long late in the game helped seal the victory in Ann Arbor, proved Robinson's resiliency, and had the announcers raving.
He proved his durability and ability to make plays in the clutch. And in this game, the nation's leading rusher--Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson--wasn't even the best rusher on the field. Nor was he the best Robinson on the field for that matter.
Although his rushing statistics have been impressive over the past month and a half, Robinson's overall performance against Michigan State this past Saturday displayed just how valuable he is to the Iowa team.
Robinson did it all Saturday—running, blocking and receiving. Not to mention, he was a mentor for true freshman Marcus Coker, who played in his spot for most of the fourth quarter.
Along with averaging 3.5 yards per carry through three quartera—most of which Iowa didn't even have the ball—Robinson caught a 32 yard touchdown reception. That score brought his season receiving total to 381 yards, bringing a whole new dimension to the offense, something that the Hawkeyes didn't even have with Shonn Greene.
He also threw in a vital block on a Ricky Stanzi scramble, which helped the Hawkeyes gain 26 yards, plus an extra late hit penalty, which extended the drive and led to an Iowa score.
In the running game, Robinson was fantastic. He only gained 65 yards, but only carried the ball 20 times.
During the first three quarters, he moved the chains time after time and pushed the pile on a couple of occasions to get a first down.
It was the Shonn Greene-type of second and third effort that Hawkeye fans have come accustomed to seeing from their "undersized" running back.
And at the end of the day, Robinson is always humble. Like his predecessor, Greene, he praises his offensive line and credits a team effort in wins.
"He's very humble," said fullback Brad Rogers. "I tease him all the time about it. I always call him a superstar and he walks away because he hates hearing it."
Unfortunately for Robinson, as his game continues to improve, he will start to receive more an more praise from the national media.
But no matter how much praise he might receive and no matter how many carries he gets, nothing about his humble sophomore will change.
Robinson will just keep on running.
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