TUCSON, Ariz. (BVM) – Eric Rogers has been coaching high school football since 2002 and in his near-20 years of experience, the Salpointe Catholic head coach said he’s never coached a player with a faith stronger than Bijan Robinson.
Before games, Robinson, along with any other willing teammates, would lead a prayer before the Lancers took the ﬁeld. As the season progressed, Rogers watched this group grow in number week by week.
“He (Robinson) has a tremendous faith and it’s contagious,” Rogers said. “People gravitate to him and it was crazy to see the progression from ﬁve, then it was 10 and 15. Next thing you know by the end of the year, there were 25 guys huddling up with him to pray right before our games. For me, it was unique and special.”
Perhaps the only rival to Robinson’s faith is his supreme talent.
Although the question of whether Robinson is the best ball carrier in the nation is debatable – considering the Salpointe Catholic star is the third-ranked running back by ESPN – his place in the hierarchy of Arizona running backs is not.
The 6-foot, 205-pound senior graduated as the state’s career leader with 114 total touchdowns and ranks second in career rushing yards with 7,036, more than any Arizona running back in the history of Class 4A and above. He averaged more than 13 yards per carry for his high school career which, needless to say, means the Lancers were in good shape when the ball was in Robinson’s hands.
Dominant since a sophomore, Robinson rushed for at least 2,000 yards for three straight seasons, but he was in peak form in 2019. Averaging a mind-blowing 17.7 yards per carry and 203 yards per game, Robinson ran for 2,235 yards and 38 touchdowns. The senior also caught three touchdowns and returned a kickoﬀ for another all while leading the Lancers to a 10-1 mark.
Bijan Robinson just THREW HIM 🤮 pic.twitter.com/rBlYrDNIBj
— Overtime (@overtime) October 26, 2019
“You only get an opportunity to coach a Bijan once every 20 years,” Rogers said. “When you look at what he’s had the opportunity to achieve over these last four years of high school, there’s very few players who have ever done what he’s done. I think he still hasn’t even reached his potential yet.”
A spectacular senior season led Robinson to be the ﬁrst Gatorade Arizona Football Player of the Year from Salpointe Catholic High School.
If there’s a better Class of 2020 high school running back in the country than Robinson, Canyon Del Oro head coach Dustin Peace said he’d like to see him. After a typical 263-yard and four-touchdown game on just 12 carries in October against Canyon Del Oro, Peace was just happy he wouldn’t have to game plan for Robinson any longer.
“Having played against Bijan for the past four years, it’s hard to explain how good he really is,” Peace said in a Gatorade press release. “This year I was hoping ‘he can’t get that much better than last year,’ but I was totally wrong. If there’s a better running back in the country, I’d like to see him.”
A contributing factor to Robinson’s highlight season was the constant competition with another blue chip recruit.
Salpointe Catholic safety Lathan Ransom is the fourth-ranked player in the state with oﬀers from LSU, Auburn and everywhere in between. The senior is committed to Ohio State University and Rogers said University of Florida defensive coordinator, Jeﬀrey Grantham, told him that Ransom was the best safety in the country on his board.
Rogers said the pair of top-tier recruits were so competitive that they brought the best out of each other and the rest of their teammates.
“I think if they would’ve been here by themselves, things would’ve been a little bit diﬀerent,” Rogers said. “They’re talking smack and getting on each other with a tremendous amount of love and respect for one another. It was always a positive and the rest of our team was able to feed oﬀ of that.
“When you look at the great players at any level, what makes them so great is that they bring everyone else up to their level and that’s something both of those guys did. There’s a ton of talent in Tucson and they all want to be the next Bijan or Lathan.”
Even with oﬀers from the University of Alabama and Ransom’s pick of Ohio State, Robinson decided to rock the burnt orange and white for the University of Texas. With every major program knocking at his door, Rogers said he believes Robinson’s decision ultimately came back to what’s most important to him: Faith.
Rogers said Robinson prayed tremendously about the decision and that Texas head coach Tom Herman and his staﬀ made a huge impression on the Lancers’ star. The relationship and rapport a recruit builds with a coaching staﬀ, Rogers said, is what truly makes an athlete decide where he/she wants to spend the next four years.
“Those guys did a tremendous job of showing Bijan who they are and that it’s not just about football,” Rogers said. “He just had an unbelievable relationship with those coaches and I think when he stepped on that campus, he knew ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’”
Following an 8-5 record and third place-ﬁnish in the Big 12, the Longhorns aren’t exactly preseason favorites to win a national championship. But part of Robinson’s motivation, Rogers said, is to uplift Texas back into that conversation.
“He knows if he goes to an Alabama or an LSU or Ohio State that he can be right there and compete,” Rogers said. “But he wants to take a school like the University of Texas and catapult them from top 20 or 15 to the ﬁnal four and competing for a national championship.”