Matt McGloin saw how good Allen Robinson was last year, even if Penn State's previous coaching staff didn't.
"The coaches last year didn't give him the opportunity he deserved," McGloin said of Robinson, who has come out of nowhere to emerge as one of the top receivers in the nation in the early going this season.
Robinson caught three passes for 29 yards as a freshman in 2011. He already has 24 catches for 322 yards in three games this season, ranking 10th nationally in receptions per game and receiving yards per game (107.3).
McGloin not only believes the sophomore "should have played a lot more last year," he also gave Robinson huge praise.
"He's going to be one of the great wideouts to play here at Penn State," the quarterback said.
Coach Bill O'Brien and others talked during the preseason about how Robinson had been impressive, but no one could have predicted this kind of start for the receiver. He caught nine passes in the opener, 10 in week two and had three of his five grabs last week go for touchdowns.
Allen Robinson's 24 catches are halfway to the PSU sophomore record of 48, set by Bobby Engram in 1993 and Deon Butler in 2006.
"Everybody's definitely excited for me," Robinson said of all the attention he's been getting.
Whether he was anywhere close to this good last year or not is unknown, but Robinson said he spent his freshman season "getting acclimated" to college ball.
What's made him so good this season is the extra work he put in during the summer with McGloin.
"Over the summer, that's really when me and him noticed that we were starting to click," Robinson said. "Me and Matt spent a lot of days going out there, throwing balls."
McGloin saw so much in Robinson's work ethic and abilities that it led to a conversation with his coaches.
"I remember speaking with Coach O'Brien and Coach [Charlie] Fisher about it, just saying, 'Hey, this Robinson kid is going to be special.'"
"Allen's probably not the type of guy that's going to go out and run 4.3, 4.4 40-[yard dash]," McGloin said. "But he's the type of guy that goes out there and works constantly on his technique, constantly on his route running.
"His routes are so crisp and so good," the quarterback added. "He's very quick, and he just has a knack for getting open."
Robinson credits new receivers coach Stan Hixon for helping him work on his routes and concentrate on doing every aspect correctly. He said Hixon is "always in our ears" about how the receivers need to be as specific as possible in their routes.
"Coach Hixon and O'Brien told me they really wanted me to perfect my route running because that's really a big part of our offense, being able to get open," Robinson said.
Robinson teamed with former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden at Orchard Lake St. Mary's High School in Michigan. The duo helped lead the team to the state title game, and Robinson caught 44 passes (10 touchdowns) as a senior.
Robinson still keeps in touch with Bolden, who's now at LSU, although he said when they talk, it's more about college and other personal things rather than football.
Robinson also was captain of the basketball team in high school and was recruited by smaller Division I programs, including Cleveland State.
"Allen Robinson is a great athlete," PSU safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong said. "In the summertime we played basketball against him all the time, and you can just tell how athletic he is. It is pretty hard to guard him, but we have a lot of fun going against each other [in practice]."
The only thing working against Robinson now is that he no longer will be able to sneak up on teams. He's been so good that everyone on the Nittany Lions' schedule the rest of the way will have to game plan to shut him down as a primary threat.
That could mean more double coverages or disguised defenses, but whatever opponents do to slow him down, Robinson believes it will only help PSU's other receivers.
"That's something I'm really not concerned [with]," he said, "because I might not be getting the ball as much as I have been, but I know other guys will definitely be good enough for their opportunity to get the ball."