A ‘major force’ for Indians
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent December 1, 2012 11:42PM
Lake Central Junior, Gelen Robinson, repeats at the Post-Tribune Defensive Player of the Year. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 3, 2013 10:51AM
ST. JOHN — Once again, the game plan for facing Lake Central’s defense started with locating the No. 9 centered on the jersey of Indians junior Gelen Robinson.
It was a different position for Robinson in 2012, as the 6-foot-2, 225-pound athlete shifted from a traditional defensive line spot to more of a linebacker. Whether he was lined up in the middle of Lake Central’s defense or on the outside, Robinson’s presence always had to be acknowledged by opposing offenses.
“A lot of the times I felt that teams did gameplan for me,” he said. “Sometimes they wouldn’t run to my side as much as I’d want them to. But I knew that my teammates can pick it up.”
“I think teams had to be aware of where Gelen was,” Lake Central coach Brett St. Germain said. “And there’s no surprise that, wherever he was, he was coming on a blitz. That’s what we want him tp do. But teams needed to account for him in different spots.”
The extra attention on Robinson helped several other Lake Central defenders amass some impressive statistics during the 2012 season. Three other Indians finished the season with more than 100 tackles, led by LB Luke Taylor’s team-high 134.
“There are times when you don’t get a true appreciation of what he does until you see the film,” St. Germain said. “He might not be the guy that makes the play, but he has a hand in why the next guy does make the play. He’s a major force on our defense.”
Even with offenses sending extra blockers toward him and frequently running in the opposite direction, Robinson still ranked fourth on the team with 95 tackles. But an incredible 47 of those tackles dropped ball carriers for a loss, including 13 sacks — leading the team in both categories.
He was also credited with 29 QB hurries, five forced fumbles (both team-highs) and one fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown. All those plays add up to Robinson being named the Post-Tribune Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. It’s the third overall player of the year award for Robinson, who also earned the honor after the 2012 track and field season.
“When you look at his stats it’s almost like, ‘There’s no way. They have to be padding those stats for him.’ But it’s all legit,” St. Germain said. “There’s no question that he does some phenomenal things.”
With high school offenses becoming more and more reliant on proper timing, a defensive force like Robinson wreaks havoc on the best offensive scripts.
“His ability to disrupt the timing of a play is really what we get out of Gelen,” St. Germain said. “Outside of statistics, if you’re throwing the ball you have to anticipate that he’s coming. If you’re running the ball, you have to know how you’re going to handle him.”
The sports world is not a foreign landscape to the Robinson family, with a two-time NBA All-Star as a father and a brother currently starting on the nationally-ranked University of Michigan basketball team. But this Robinson has set out to forge his own sports trail.
“In the last few years, during the season, I’ve been getting more and more exposure,” said Robinson, who went on visits to Notre Dame, Illinois and Michigan this fall. “It’s been good for me. I have been, somewhat, creating my own path. I’m more than just living off my dad and brother’s name.”
And in a thought that should send shivers down the collective spines of DAC coaches, Robinson spoke of even higher expectations for 2013.
“I still think there’s a lot left to prove,” he said. “I need to keep working harder than what I’ve been doing in the past. As a senior coming into next season, I need to start being more of a leader to my team. I still haven’t got any (college) offers yet so I still have something to prove.”
Added St. Germain: “I think he still has a lot that he can learn in terms of playing the game. It’s another testament to just how well he’s done this far.”