Rudel: WR Robinson approaching rare air

Allen Robinson continues his climb toward the top of the Penn State receiving chart and, depending on whether he returns for a final season of eligibility in 2014, he may well stand alone by the time his career ends.

Robinson says he’ll sit down with his coaches and family after the season and make the determination on next year’s address.

“I haven’t thought too much about it,” he said earlier this week as the Nittany Lions prepared for their trip to Minnesota. “I’m just trying to take one game at a time and help us get some more wins down the stretch.”

Much of Robinson’s decision will be tied to how he finishes this season and his draft stock in the eyes of the NFL. The pre-draft gurus currently have him slotted around the second round.

He said if he does return, it would be to “finish what I started with my teammates and to get my degree.”

Either way, the former Michigan high school basketball star is approaching hallowed ground in joining the best of Penn State’s best-ever receivers.

With 1,043 yards this season, he’s only 41 yards shy of Bobby Engram’s season record of 1,084. Robinson is fifth all-time in receptions (146), fourth in receiving yardage (2,085) and fifth in touchdowns (17).

His 66 catches this year are the second-highest single-season total in school history behind his record 77 last year.

Deon Butler’s career-record 179 grabs are within reach – especially impressive since Robinson has been a starter for only two seasons.

Statistics can be deceiving because of freshmen eligibility and the fact that teams play more games in this era than they did in the 10- and 11-game schedules of the 1960s and ’70s (when bowl statistics didn’t count, either.)

Any discussion of the best couple of receivers in PSU history has to begin with Engram, even though he’s second (167) all-time in receptions to Butler.

O.J. McDuffie, Kenny Jackson and probably Joe Jurevicius would be included, too.

Especially if he stays next year but even now, Robinson – who has had as many spectacular catches as anybody and more yards after the catch than everybody – Is playing himself into elite company.

“Of all the receivers who have come through here and being in the conversation with those guys is a great honor,” Robinson said. “But I don’t pay too much attention.”

He doesn’t have to: His performance speaks for itself and with each passing record, that performance is getting louder.

To have a little fun, I took a trip through the Penn State record book during the flight to Minnesota and found the following records to be relatively safe:

n Larry Johnson’s single-game rushing total of 327 yards may someday be broken, but what of his record 279 yards in a single half against Michigan State in 2002? Johnson didn’t carry in the second half.

n Kerry Collins’ 10.5 yards per attempt in the 1994 season. Yards per attempt is the best gauge of a quarterback’s vertical passing game. As good as he was last year (with an incredible 24-5 touchdown-interception ratio) Matt McGloin averaged 7.3 yards per attempt. Mike McQueary holds the Lions’ career mark at 8.8.

n Engram’s 31 touchdown receptions. Seriously.

n Neal Smith’s 19 career interceptions. It’s stood for 44 years plus nowadays, when somebody starts picking off passes at that rate, teams throw in the opposite direction.

n Courtney Brown’s 70 career tackles for loss. The runnerup is Brandon Short’s 51. Today, if a guy starts racking up those numbers, he declares for the NFL.

n Gary Brown’s 43.0-yard kickoff return average in 1990 – even though he had just eight. Teams are getting too many touchbacks for this mark to be broken.

n Joe Colone’s 14 punts against Cornell in 1942. Especially if Bill O’Brien stays around, this record won’t be approached. By the way, Colone was a freshman, and the game was a 0-0 tie.

n Finally, the most unbreakable of all Penn State records: Mike Reid’s three safeties against Maryland in 1966. To show why it’s safe, it’s not only the single-game record but the career record, too.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoona