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COLUMN

Busy Robinson set to loom large at Purdue

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For more on recruiting and college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Glenn's kid adds another state title to achievements

Monday, February 24, 2014 - 12:01 am

INDIANAPOLIS -- Relax? Are you kidding? Gelen Robinson has no time for such foolishness. There is work to do, championships to win, greatness to achieve.

Oh, yes. A Purdue football career to start.

Or is it a Boiler track opportunity?

Or, perhaps, some Purdue wrestling?

Versatility, it seems, leaves no time for breaks, rest or messing with smart phone apps.

“I try to keep busy,” Robinson says. “I'm so used to being busy. There's no other way I want to live my life. Being on the wresting mat, being on the football field, being on the track. It's all fun to me. I don't see it as hard. It's great to know I'm successful in all three sports.”

The Lake Central High School senior looms large in the shadows just beyond Bankers Life Fieldhouse's spotlighted state wrestling tourney stage. He is 6-1 and 220 chiseled pounds, as if Michelangelo carved his physique. He speaks politely -- a lot of “Yes, sirs” -- and delivers sledgehammer blows.

He has dominated -- again. He has set a standard for superior toughness, athleticism and purpose -- again. Wrestling, football, track, … it doesn't matter. He thrives at the highest levels.

Saturday he won his second 220-pound state wrestling championship, making him 102-0 in the last two seasons. That followed a football season in which he was rated as the state's No. 5 Class of 2014 player, and the nation's No. 13 defensive end, by Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service. Today he works to perfect his track throwing skills. Finishing second in state in the discus (187 feet, 5 inches) and shot put (59-6) last spring burns, you see.

“I'll start throwing in the upstairs gym with indoor shots.”

In a few months, Purdue will start benefiting.

His father knows all about it. That would be Glenn Robinson, the former Purdue basketball All-America and NBA standout.

“It's his work ethic,” the elder Robinson says. “He has natural strength. He works very hard. He works a whole lot harder than I did at that age. He's a hard worker on top of God-given talent. When you put that together, it can be scary.”

Robinson -- his first name is pronounced GEE-Lyn -- scares with athletic grace and overwhelming power. He gets that from his father, who at Purdue once set a basketball program weight lifting record with a 309-pound clean-and-jerk lift.

What he didn't get was the ability to shoot a basketball. That was left to his father and older brother, Glenn Robinson III, a sophomore standout at Michigan.

“I shot around a couple of times when I was younger,” he says, “and that's when I knew that was not the sport for me. I don't have the shot like my brother or hops like my dad, so (wrestling) is definitely my sport.”

The elder Robinson is fine with that.

“I let my kids do what they wanted to do. If Gelen wanted to play rugby, if that was his passion, if that was his love, I'll support it.

“Gelen tried basketball. He went to my camp a few times in the summer, but it didn't work out. He played baseball, football, wrestling. He even did karate for a while. He was doing so much stuff his mother had to pull him back. Every time one season was over, it was time for something else.

“He liked contact sports. If that's your passion, I'm all for it.”

Robinson's passion peaked over the weekend. In four matches he recorded two pins, a 17-5 victory and then, in the finals against Kokomo's Fletcher Miller, a 9-3 decision. It was a near repeat of last year's 7-2 win over Miller in the state finals.

“It is very satisfying,” Robinson says. “There's no other feeling better than this, to end your senior season with a big win. And winning two years in a row is indescribable.”

Miller did everything but call in the National Guard against Robinson Saturday night. He shot, attacked, got rough. It was like wrestling a redwood. Robinson cruised to the victory,

Miller, by the way, is 109-0 in the last two years against Indiana 220 pounders not named Gelen Robinson. He has a scholarship to wrestle at Indiana.

“Fletcher is a tough kid,” Robinson says. “A great kid. He's going to IU to do some big things down there. I wish him the best of luck.”

The consensus is Robinson will play football and participate in track at Purdue. But in the glow of his latest wrestling accomplishment, he wouldn't concede the end of his wrestling career.

“I'm not completely sure about wrestling at Purdue. Most likely not, but I'm definitely going to play football and throw.”

In football Robinson will wear No. 13 at Purdue, the same number his father wore for the Boilers.

“That's great,” Glenn Robinson says. “It's like a reincarnation. It's like me all over again. I'll be watching myself out there.

“He earned his scholarship. He did it on his own, not because I'm his dad. That makes it more special.”

The Boilers are coming off a 1-11 football season in coach Darrell Hazell's debut. The younger Robinson, who projects as a linebacker, says he hopes this freshmen class will help turn things around.

“I know the coaches are really dedicated to turning the program around. I have faith in them all. It's going to be interesting these next couple of years to see me progress at Purdue.”

As for seeing Robinson at rest?

Not happening.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Pete DiPrimio at pdiprimio@news-sentinel.com.