Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/22/11
TEMPE, Ariz. Gerell Robinson has kept a list of goals in his locker the past two years. It hasnt moved, the ASU senior receiver said. Thats because Robinson hadnt achieved any of them. Before this season, the 6-foot-4, 222-pound physical specimen had an underwhelming 674 receiving yards and five touchdowns in three years. Its never easy changing positions, as Robinson, a prep quarterback, did his freshman season. He became notorious with the fan base for dropping balls at inopportune moments. But there was more than just positional play he needed to learn. I think it was more about getting G-Rob out of the way, said receivers coach Steve Broussard, who played four seasons in the NFL. Sometimes, you get guys where its all about them at that position and I understand it. They think they should get the ball, they want to be a playmaker, and when it doesnt happen, they get frustrated. I think those were the things that were happening with Gerell. Not any more. As quickly as Arizona States season has turned from high hopes to heartbreak, Robinson has emerged as a go-to guy, a big-play weapon and everything else the staff was hoping for when they plucked him from 2008 Class 5A state champion Chandler Hamilton High. Robinson has posted career-highs in receiving yards each of the past three weeks and has registered all five of his career 100-yard receiving games in the past six games. If theres an MVP right now, it would be him, coach Dennis Erickson said. While Robinson insists he hasnt changed anything about his game, Broussard said there has been a noticeable difference this season. One thing he has really picked up is his practice habits, Broussard said. Hes really working hard, and hes really buying into what were doing. That willingness to stay the course is a direct product of his mother, Zarita. Im a breast cancer survivor, said Zarita, known by Robinsons teammates as Mama Z. Having body parts removed and having to go through chemo and all the treatments will teach you real fast about fighting like a pit bull to survive. I tried to be there to support Gerell and not let him see my pain so it wouldnt affect his journey in life, but he realized he had to do some growing in the process. My son has not been perfect, believe me, I know that. There have been times where I had to check him, but I am proud of the way he has kept his faith and kept fighting. Last season, Robinson played both at outside and inside receiver. This year, hes making his living the hard way -- over the middle, in traffic, with the big hits following shortly after the catch. I love playing that position, he said. I remember when (offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone) tried to switch me from outside to inside and I wasnt too sure, but I trusted in him and believed in him. Robinsons finest moment came last week against Arizona when he caught a career-high 11 passes for a personal-best 199 yards and a touchdown. His 1,100 receiving yards this season rank sixth in ASU single-season history, 305 yards behind Shaun McDonald (2002) and just 148 below second-place Derek Hagan (2004) with at least two games left to play (three if the Sun Devils advance to the Pac-12 title game). "I haven't really looked at the scoreboard, looked at anything, Robinson said. I just keep working that's my mentality in general. It's paid off for me. I just wish it would pay off for this team." Theres the rub. While Robinson is finally achieving the expectations others had for him when he enrolled, his team is not. Im not going to sugar-coat it, he said. Its hard to be in this situation and know you have a team that should be in the Top 10 in the nation. We dropped some games we should have won. Thats the frustrating part of it. We havent been beat, we just keep beating ourselves. But there is still hope for this maddeningly inconsistent Arizona State team. If the Devils defeat Cal on Friday while USC beats UCLA and Utah beats Colorado, they'll still advance to the Pac-12 Championship Game. One night could erase three weeks worth of frustration, just as Robinsons year has erased three previous years of the same. Its not how you start, he said. Its how you finish.
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