Allen Robinson was off to a great start as a rookie in 2014, with 48 receptions for 548 yards his first 10 games as a Jaguar.
Then a broken right foot forced him onto injured reserve. And while other rookie receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans thrived, Robinson’s standout start was overlooked.
But in his second year, Robinson played like one of the top receivers, ranking sixth with 1,400 yards and tying for the league lead with 14 touchdowns.
Not bad for a Southfield native Michigan State wanted to convert to defensive back. Michigan didn’t even recruit him out of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High. He led the Big Ten in receiving at Penn State in 2012 and 2013.
Last season’s performance earned Robinson his first trip to the Pro Bowl — he was the top alternate when Lions receiver Calvin Johnson declined his invitation. He also won a fan-voting contest through Vizio as the “Top Value Performer,” a prize for someone whose on-field performance exceeded expectations of his salary. That got Robinson a trip to participate in events during Super Bowl week.
Now, Robinson and the rest of his teammates have to find a way to get the Jaguars to the postseason for the first time since 2007.
“I think we’re close,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue to stay hungry and take that next step.”
Robinson’s goal for 2016 is to play all 16 games. It might seem basic, but after showing what he could do in a full season last year, accomplishing that goal surely would be helpful for Jacksonville.
Even though the Jaguars are young, Robinson said it’s been good to grow together with his teammates. In addition to drafting Robinson in the second round in 2014, Jacksonville took quarterback Blake Bortles third overall and signed wide receiver Allen Hurns (1,031 yards) as an undrafted rookie
“For us, and playing as rookies, we kind of saw the direction we could head in as an offense, really,” Robinson said of the Jaguars, who also drafted running back T.J. Yeldon in the first round in 2015. “We really were able to put the work in to go out there and perform well this year.”
The Jaguars went 5-11, the team’s best finish since 2011.
Robinson said he plans to stay in Jacksonville to train this offseason, but already did something that could, in some ways, remind him of Michigan. He posted a photo Tuesday on Twitter of a new tattoo on his side that shows his leaping catch against Michigan in 2013. Robinson’s 33-yard catch set up the tying score late in the fourth quarter before Penn State won in four overtimes.
That will provide Robinson with a daily reminder of his time in college, but after playing in the Pro Bowl — game-high 105 yards on two receptions — maybe he’ll have pro catches worthy of a tattoo.
“It was awesome,” Robinson said of playing in the Pro Bowl. “It was a good chance to play with a lot of different guys, seeing the vets and how they go about things.”