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NFL Draft Rewind: No. 26 Bijan Robinson

Bijan Robinson
Bijan Robinson (© Aaron E. Martinez / USA TODAY NETWORK)

The NFL Draft kicks off with its opening round on Thursday in Kansas City, so Rivals is taking a look back at its projected first-round picks when they were high school prospects. We move on to our projected No. 26 – Texas running back Bijan Robinson, who was the top-ranked all-purpose back in the 2020 class. Robinson is also the 16th Rivals Camp Series alum among our first 26 projected picks.


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No. 26: RB Bijan Robinson, Texas

Where they were ranked: The Tucson (Ariz.) Salpointe five-star finished No. 18 overall, the top-rated all-purpose back and second in the Arizona state rankings behind Georgia signee Kelee Ringo.

Recruitment: Without question, Ohio State was the front-runner in Robinson’s recruitment for a long time. Even at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge earlier in the summer before his decision, Robinson talked to numerous reporters about how the Buckeyes would be tough to beat. USC was a major contender as well because of its running back tradition and he had family in Los Angeles. But after sitting down with his family and close associates, Robinson committed to Texas over those two programs right before his senior season.

Biggest question: Can Robinson speed up the pace with the ball in his hands to hit holes faster and go against NFL defenses that close things up much more quickly than in the college game?

Memories: Robinson came to the Five-Star Challenge as a four-star prospect but left proving he was arguably the best running back in the entire 2020 class and it was only inevitable that two months later he moved up to five-star status.

The fondest memory I have of Robinson at that event from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is that he completely dominated the morning session and the 1-on-1 portion by torching linebackers and defensive backs down the field numerous times. He caught so many passes and had some highlight-reel grabs that it wouldn’t have been surprising to see him play more receiver at Texas.

Anyway, he was awesome during that session and during a break Robinson comes up to me – completely innocent – and asks, “What do you think?” He was basically asking if we were impressed by what he had done, sort of not even understanding himself how dominant he was during that event.

That was Robinson throughout his recruitment. He was not shy but very humble, very considerate of others and not a prima donna at all. I’m not supposed to cheer for players to do well or not do well, supposed to be objective throughout the entire process, but it’s honestly pretty nice to see Robinson have so much success since he was such an upstanding kid throughout his recruitment. It’s certainly not surprising, though, since he was so talented in high school.

In a class where all four five-star running backs have not reached their potential - and it’s unlikely Zachary Evans, Demarkcus Bowman, Kendall Milton or MarShawn Lloyd will end up first-round picks - it’s Robinson who has the best chance of that and deservedly so.

Looking back, Robinson was the best of that bunch and further proved it at Texas rushing for 3,410 yards and 33 touchdowns on 539 carries. Unsurprisingly, the five-star also had 805 receiving yards and eight scores.