The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Rockets have been called out for not offering help to Bijan Robinson, a former Texas high school football star who was arrested last week on charges of sexual assault.
If Texas star Bijan Robinson needs advice, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams are on standby.
Something seemed different moments before Bijan Robinson made his first start of his highly anticipated second season at Texas.
The former five-star recruit, an Arizona high school legend who ran for 7,036 yards and 114 touchdowns, both state records, was making just his seventh start for Texas and already had school records for yards per carry in a game (19.1 against Kansas State) and in a season (19.1 against Kansas State) (8.2 yards).
Robinson, on the other hand, was nervous for the first time.
Robinson, whose first year at Texas was marred by COVID-19 limitations, remarked, “I’ve never [played] in front of 100,000 people.”
But he was reassured by a familiar face: Ricky Williams, the famous Longhorns running back.
“He simply told me to go out there and represent for the men that came before you,” Robinson said.
Robinson isn’t interested in learning about the people who came before him. They’ve encircled him.
Robinson has legends or direct links to his heroes as sounding boards in all area of his football life, whether it’s Williams’ brotherhood, coach Steve Sarkisian’s connections to his idol, Reggie Bush, or business guidance from Earl Campbell. Robinson may inquire personally how to achieve their level of excellence if he wants to it.
Before the Longhorns’ game against Louisiana on Sept. 4, both Williams and Campbell, the Longhorns’ two Heisman Trophy winners, were on the field. Their area of expertise. The grass Robinson was standing on had just been renamed Campbell-Williams Field, a permanent reminder of their larger-than-life presence on campus, along with their two monuments.
Two legends, two running backs, two of the few individuals on the planet who could comprehend the lofty expectations that awaited Robinson, who began the season as the favorite among non-quarterbacks (25-1 at Caesars Sportsbook) to win the Heisman Trophy.
But, more importantly, Robinson’s legs may make or break the Longhorns’ season. Sarkisian’s first-year coaching success at Texas may be in jeopardy. Campbell and Williams, who both had their greatest seasons under a coach who didn’t recruit them, have another connection with Robinson.
Bijan Robinson, the Longhorns’ running back, has big expectations in Austin. Getty Images/Tim Warner
When new Longhorns coach Fred Akers took over after Darrell Royal retired in 1977, he abandoned the famous wishbone in favor of the I-formation in order to take use of Campbell’s abilities. The Longhorns went from 5-5-1 to 11-1, Campbell ran for 1,744 yards and 19 touchdowns, topping the country in both running and scoring, and he won the Heisman Trophy by a landslide.
In 1998, when Mack Brown took over for John Mackovic, he re-signed Williams and persuaded him to stay for his senior season, then structured his offense around him. That season, Williams ran for 2,124 yards and 27 touchdowns, capturing the Heisman Trophy and giving Brown immediate reputation in Austin. It also aided in the acceleration of his recruitment efforts.
“Special things happen when the coach believes and Texas has a great running back,” Williams said.
Sarkisian believes Robinson’s diverse skill set is a good match for a coach that prioritizes running backs in his offense. Sarkisian’s running backs have been rated in the top three in total touches in their conferences each year in his six full seasons as a head coach and two seasons as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Robinson got 102 touches as a rookie under Tom Herman last season.
The Longhorns ran 68 offensive plays in their 38-18 victory against No. 23 Louisiana on Saturday. On 24 of them, Robinson had the ball, rushing for 103 yards and a score on 20 attempts and collecting four receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by backups. Last season, he set career highs with 16 carries and three receptions in a defeat to Iowa State (against Kansas State).
He grabbed a touchdown ball out of the backfield on a wheel route and even lined up in the slot, demonstrating his versatility as a receiver.
@CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFOX @CFBONFO
September 4, 2021 — Texas Football (@TexasFootball)
Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, who made 13 tackles versus Louisiana, said, “I play against that guy every day, and when I tell you it’s a battle, Bijan makes us work.” “That, I believe, is one of the reasons why we’re so excellent at tackling, because let me tell you, tackling Bijan every day in practice isn’t easy. He’s incredible.”
To improve his approach and focus on his flexibility, Robinson says he watched another Heisman winner, Bush. He wears the number 5 in honor of Bush, who wore it at USC.
Robinson stated, “He didn’t spend any time attempting to tear down defenses.” “He simply quickly dismantled them and moved north and south.”
As USC’s quarterbacks coach during Bush’s golden days with the Trojans, Sarkisian witnessed Bush personally. He understands what Bush did, how he accomplished it, and how to use Robinson’s skills in a similar way, and he can see Robinson in his scheme playing like Bush.
Sarkisian stated, “I always thought Reggie had such a unique ability to plant his foot in the ground, make one cut, go vertical, and return back to top-end speed.” “Guys have tried before, but only a few have succeeded, and I believe Bijan is a one-of-a-kind player who can play at maximum speed, put his foot on the ground, and make someone miss. Those one-cuts are very dangerous. When they place their foot on the ground, you can almost feel it. They are, without a doubt, one-of-a-kind in that regard.”
Robinson is a quick worker. He answers questions quickly, nearly before they’re done being asked, with a “yes” as a punctuation. After the game on Saturday, he said his first touchdown reception was a mismatch exploit based on what Sarkisian observed on the prior play.
On Monday, Sarkisian responded to the remark with a grin, saying, “I don’t want to give all the secrets out.”
Robinson’s zeal, talent, and platform make him one of the best chances in college football to profit from the new name, image, and likeness regulations. Robinson has already taken advantage of a very Texas opportunity, partnering with one of the state’s best barbecue spots. In addition to some deals like a clothing line collaboration and selling personalized Cameo videos for $189 (up from $100 initially), Robinson has already taken advantage of a very Texas opportunity, partnering with one of the state’s best barbecue spots.
I’m thrilled to be working with the Pinkertons! Blessings✨ https://t.co/qTz8aGsKJh
September 2, 2021 — Bijan Robinson (@Bijan5Robinson)
Robinson has also found a mentor in a Heisman Trophy winner for his new business ventures.
Campbell has been in the NIL industry for almost 40 years, including his famous Skoal ad. Earl Campbell’s Hot Links are a grocery-store favorite, featuring Campbell sporting a cowboy hat and a football on his hip on the packaging.
When Robinson was looking for business possibilities, he contacted Campbell, who invited him to his Austin home to discuss his choices.
Campbell stated, “I told him there’s a lot of money to be earned in this.” “It’s the right thing for the NCAA to do with these young guys. I left a mother, six brothers, and four sisters behind when I came to UT from Tyler, Texas. My mother would not have been able to assist me at college in any manner. It would have made a huge impact in my life if I had anything like this in college. The NCAA has amassed sufficient wealth. They’ve earned billions thanks to guys like me.”
Campbell made sure Robinson knew that you would be judged by the company you keep, and to always make sure you’re doing things you believe in, according to Robinson, who was in awe of Campbell’s trophy room and mementos.
“In the NIL things, he’s a role model for me,” Robinson remarked. “In the NFL, he made all those business transactions, and those are the same kinds of agreements I’m attempting to make right now.”
Campbell is the more straightforward of the two, a Texas legend who doesn’t hold back and is a near-mythical character endowed with supernatural power. Williams, who at Texas broke Tony Dorsett’s all-time Division I running record (since beaten by former Wisconsin back Ron Dayne), embodied the speed and power Robinson wants to. Robinson, like Williams, takes a more meditative approach to his work.
Sounds of the ocean or Pandora’s “Watercolor” channel, he added, are his pregame excitement music.
“I like to listen to soothing music to take my mind off things,” he said. “It’s the sweet jazz music you hear in elevators.”
Robinson and Williams had a similar route to success in Texas. Both are Pac-12 outsiders, with Robinson hailing from Arizona and Williams hailing from San Diego.
“You can sense there’s something unique about someone when they’re at the right place at the right moment,” Williams added. “I was under the impression that I needed to be in Texas. That is why I traveled. And I have a feeling something is up with Bijan, one of the best running backs in the country, who is from Tucson. It’s simply got that vibe.”
Robinson has already been dubbed the Next Great Texas Running Back, much like Williams before him. Early in his Texas career, Williams was dubbed “Little Earl.” On the Longhorn Network last year, Williams called Robinson “Little Ricky.”
“I put it out there because I believe it signifies more when the name comes from within the circle than when it comes from outside the circle,” Williams said. “Expectations may be described in a variety of ways. But it was out of anticipation that I moved to Texas. I came to Texas with the goal of winning the Heisman Trophy and making a name for myself. So, by giving him that name, I’m essentially telling him, “That’s my expectation.””
Robinson claimed there was a fast connection between Robinson and Williams when they finally got time to hang out for several hours this summer at an event in Arizona.
Tonight, I had the opportunity to meet one of the greatest young running backs in college football. pic.twitter.com/HfYPhPN53I
June 13, 2021 — Ricky Williams (@RicktheLaureate)
Robinson described it as “having a huge brother.” “When we first met one other, it was love at first sight. We spoke about what he’s done here and how he can assist me for approximately four hours. In the short time we were together, he taught me the ropes. It was very motivating.”
The Longhorns face longtime Southwest Conference foe Arkansas on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), and Robinson is expected to play a major role.
Last season, the Razorbacks allowed 192.1 running yards per game, which ranked 93rd nationally, and 451.7 total yards per game, which ranked 106th. Last season, Robinson was second in the nation with 5.8 yards after contact per run, while Arkansas allowed 103.2 yards after contact per game.
Robinson has maintained throughout the summer that he has no complaints about his limited chances last season, claiming that he is always willing to do anything his coaches ask of him. It wasn’t uncommon for him to have just 10 to 15 carries in high school since he had such huge runs that his team would build a lead and he’d sit out the second half.
Bijan Robinson, the Longhorns’ running back, has been informed by coach Steve Sarkisian that he will get a lot of action in the offense. USA TODAY Sports/Scott Wachter
Robinson, on the other hand, has made it plain that he is ready and prepared to take on a larger role.
“One of the things Bijan is most thrilled about right now is Sark has told him, ‘We’re going to give you the ball,’” Williams said.
Robinson and wide receiver Jordan Whittington made a NIL visit in neighboring New Braunfels, Texas, on the last Sunday before the season began, signing autographs. Campbell made an unexpected visit and sat at the table with the players as they autographed things for Longhorns fans and took photos with youngsters holding the “Hook ‘Em Horns” sign.
“These college coaches don’t seem to want people like Ricky Williams or Earl Campbell around these young kids,” Campbell, who regularly attends Longhorns practice, said. “I’m not sure whether it’s frightening to them, but one thing about Sarkisian is that he stretched out his hand, which I believe made the players and myself feel at ease.”
Bijan Robinson, far left, has found Earl Campbell to be a helpful resource as he navigates fame at Texas. ESPN/Dave Wilson
For a sophomore, Heisman talk and high expectations may be overwhelming. Williams, on the other hand, believes Robinson will be able to manage the commotion.
“I don’t want to put any pressure on him,” Williams added, “but he already knows.” “People would inquire whether I was under a lot of stress. I’d say no, since the strain I place on myself is much higher than any pressure imposed by others. Bijan seems to exude that sort of self-assurance.”
“It’s simply doing something you like,” he said. “If you love it and God gave you the capacity to do it, there can’t be any pressure.”
That isn’t to say he won’t get an offer to join an exclusive club from Campbell. Campbell pointed to a picture of Texas players holding his Heisman and smiled as he gave his own recommendation at the signing table.
“Why don’t you simply go ahead and buy one for yourself?” says the narrator. Campbell remarked.
Williams agrees that it’s past time, which is why he felt it was critical to locate Robinson before Saturday’s game.
“‘I’m here for you,’ I said as I approached him. Yes, the field was named after me, but I was at the gate to meet him, not the other way around “Williams stated his opinion. “I just believe he has that unique once-in-a-generation ability. A generation is said to endure approximately 20 years. Earl’s Heisman and mine are approximately 20 years apart. And it’s been a little more than 20 years since I’ve had one. It’s past time for Texas to land a once-in-a-generation talent.”
The two men whose names are inscribed on the grass under Robinson’s cleats believe, which drives Robinson even harder to make his imprint.
“I can attempt to accomplish the same thing for my legacy on the field named after them,” Robinson added. “Perhaps one day I’ll be able to join them and have my name on that stadium.”