Robiskie makes habit of delivering big plays
In the pecking order of Ohio State receivers, there was a time when Brian Robiskie was at the back of the line. But what a line.
Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall -- all future NFL draft picks, the first three taken in the first round -- lined up in front of Robiskie for his freshman season in 2005. Robiskie had been a late addition to that year's recruiting class, but he proved in preseason camp that he was worthy of playing right away.
But he didn't play much, not in that line. About the biggest thing Robiskie caught that season was a nickname, "Robo," courtesy of Hall.
"I wasn't a big fan of it when Roy Hall gave me that nickname," Robiskie said. "But it just kind of stuck, and when too many guys start saying it, you really can't go against it."
Now it's part of the team's nomen-clature: Robo and his gang, with the chief deputy being sophomore Brian Hartline.
"Once you lose two first-round picks (Ted Ginn Jr. and Gonzalez), somebody has to step up there," junior quarterback Todd Boeckman said. "I think Robo has taken charge of those receivers and he is doing a great job."
It's what the man at the front of the line is supposed to do, Robiskie said.
"Coming in my freshman year and looking up to guys like Santonio, Ted and Gonzo, watching them do some of the things they did, I have tried to maybe imitate some things here and there to take from their game," Robiskie said.
Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr. and Gonzalez often delivered big plays. Robiskie showed a knack for them last season even as the third option behind Gonzalez and Ted Ginn Jr.. He caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from scrambling quarterback Troy Smith against Penn State and the winning touchdown pass against Michigan.
But it's what Robiskie did after Ohio State's 41-14 loss to Florida in the national championship game that caught the eyes of his teammates.
"It's his work ethic," fullback Dionte Johnson said. "He has been getting after it since we got back. Everybody was looking at him crazy, like, 'Robo, you're catching balls every single day.'
"But now when they throw a ball to him -- like one when he was on the sideline (Saturday) at Washington, where he didn't even look like he saw it, and he reached his hands out and caught it. That comes from months and months of training yourself to do that."
In each of the first three games, a Robiskie catch or two has invigorated the offense. His 68-yard catch-and-sprint for a third-quarter touchdown rallied Ohio State to a win at Washington.
He has become faster, too. When Robiskie checked in at Ohio State, he said he could cover 40 yards in 4.5 seconds. But now he said he can run it in 4.4 seconds, with the team's speed coach, former world 400-meter record-holder Butch Reynolds, to thank.
"When I think about Butch, I think about form," Robiskie said. "When you watch him run, it looks so effortless. … If you try to strain too much, you're not going to maximize your speed, so you've just got to relax with good form."
One could say Robiskie has eased into the role of a clutch performer and team leader.
"With Robo, you think of somebody like Michael Jenkins in 2002," whose clutch catches kept drives alive, Johnson said. "In a big situation, he is going to come up with a play.
"It is great to have somebody like that on your team, because even if the defense knows you might be going to him, he's still going to make the play."
That's what a receiver has to do if he wants to stay at the front of the line.
Read more at www.columbusdispatch.com