Deadspin learns you something: Branson Robinson is the next great backfield bruiser

 Branson Robinson is the next star running back recruit.

Branson Robinson is the next star running back recruit.
Screenshot: Twitter @brae_004

Five-foot-10, 220 pounds with a 40-inch vertical, a 4.49 40-yard dash, and a full beard to boot.

Oh, and this behemoth I’m referring to still has a full year of high school left.

Branson Robinson, a soon-to-be senior at Germantown High School in Madison, Mississippi, has been turning heads and breaking ankles recently in his game footage and training videos.

You’re telling me that that’s a high schooler?! That’s someone who just recently got a driver’s license? It’s the old “what are they feeding these guys?” joke come to life. Robinson and his freakish size and abilities have caught the eye of several universities. According to 247sports, Robinson has received interest from 17 strong football schools including such southern elites as Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson, among many more. It’s obvious why Robinson is drawing so much attention. The man is built like a tank, but pure size isn’t enough on its own to make every recruiter swoon over you. Robinson couples his raw strength with incredible quickness and an ability to start and stop that makes my ACLs weak just watching it. It’s the exact same combination of physical assets that made Mark Ingram so dominant at the college level, and that’s what makes Alabama such a logical destination for Robinson.

Robinson is exactly the type of back who’d fit perfectly in Nick Saban’s system. From Derrick Henry to Eddie Lacy to Trent Richardson to Bo Scarbrough, the big bruiser in the backfield has been a pretty consistent force in Nick Saban’s Alabama system. The Crimson Tide offense has been able to succeed without a huge bulking muscle carrying the ball, but Bama has had immense success with such players. Every running back I just mentioned won at least one national championship with the Crimson Tide. In fact, aside from Derrick Henry, they all won at least two.

So, does this mean that Bama is a shoe-in to land Mississippi’s top overall recruit and the nation’s number three running back? Well, not exactly. Per reports, Robinson has actually expressed incredible interest in both Georgia and Tennessee as well. Along with Alabama, those are the three schools Robinson has reportedly narrowed down his decision to. So how well would a back like Robinson fit into the non-Saban systems?

Obviously, any school would be thrilled to have someone as talented as Robinson, but Robinson doesn’t exactly fit the mold that Tennessee’s head coach Josh Heupel has shown favor for during his coaching career. During Heupel’s time as an offensive coach at UCF, Heupel adopted his own variation of Art Briles’ coveted “veer and shoot” system — a system that relies heavily on RPOs, and needs a quarterback who can read opposing defenses well. That system would most likely fit Robinson’s skill set, just as it did with QB-turned-TE/HB Blake Bell at Oklahoma back in 2014, but it wouldn’t give Robinson the spotlight he’d want if he was really looking to become a potential first-round NFL draft selection. Three years in Heupel’s RPO-heavy offense could turn Robinson into more of a fullback than anything else. I doubt that’s what Robinson would want.

As for Georgia, the Bulldogs would definitely fit Robinson better. The most common comparison I’ve seen Robinson draw is to former Georgia phenom Nick Chubb. Georgia runs a much more pro-style offense, along the same lines as Alabama has. Not to mention, that if Robinson’s game really does play much like Chubb’s, playing for a coach that helped Chubb develop into one of the NFL’s best running backs would be incredibly enticing. As great as Alabama’s history with halfbacks is, Georgia’s has arguably been better at producing solid NFL talent such as Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift as well as some of the game’s best runners in recent years like the aforementioned Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley.

On his social media, Robinson has stated that he will be making his college decision on July 22, the birthday of his late uncle who recently passed away.

Although Tennessee is among the schools currently in the running, it’s highly unlikely Robinson would choose a school that just hired its fifth head coach since 2008. In my opinion, Georgia seems like the clear choice for Robinson. Alabama is widely regarded as halfback U, and Saban has already received commitments from another 4-star halfback prospect, Istruoma’s Le’Veon Moss and 5-star prospect at the position, Emmanuel Henderson out of Geneva County. I’m sure Robinson isn’t one to shy away from competition, but Georgia would offer an opportunity to play earlier in a system almost as coveted as Alabama’s.

Not to mention, Georgia put together a tremendous recruiting effort during Robinson’s visit to UGA in June. During that visit, Robinson was taken on a tour of the school’s facilities along with four other top prospects: quarterback Gunnar Stockton, wide receiver De’Nylon Morrissette, wide receiver Kojo Antwi, and tight end Oscar Delp. In their short time together in Athens, these five became incredibly close friends and even started referring to themselves as “The Fab Five” — a nod to Michigan basketball’s 1991 recruiting class that saw their team, led entirely by true freshman, reach the NCAA finals (and then do it again). Both Stockton and Morrissette have already announced their commitments to UGA. And with as chummy as this group have been with one another on social media, it seems more and more likely by the day that all five could end up as part of the Dawg Pound. I feel I don’t need to say just how dangerous having five of the nation’s top recruits at each offensive skill position makes a team.

Robinson has all the tools necessary to be the next great college back. Drawing comparisons to Nick Chubb and Mark Ingram is never bad. I’m looking forward to seeing him dominate opposition at the collegiate level.

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