Indiana defensive end Beau Robbins came to Bloomington in 2019 as one of the most heralded prospects in program history. A consensus four-star recruit, Robbins was IU’s second-highest rated recruit in the 2019 class per 247 Sports and the program’s sixth-highest rated ever when he enrolled.
But in his first three seasons at IU, Robbins was rarely a part of the picture for the Hoosier defense.
He made four tackles across three seasons, all in 2021, making zero appearances between the 2019 regular season finale win over Purdue and the 2021 season opener at Iowa.
The former Carmel High School (Carmel, Ind.) standout said that things did not go the way he expected them to from 2019 through 2021, but with defensive end James Head Jr. out with an injury in last Friday night’s 23-20 win over Illinois, Robbins had an opportunity to step up, and he made the most of it.
In total Robbins saw 59 snaps against Illinois according to PFF, including the closing seconds of the game.
With Illinois driving on its last possession after a 19-yard first down completion from Tommy DeVito to Isaiah Williams, Indiana needed a stop to keep the Illini from reaching field goal range and clinch a Big Ten win for the first time in 21 months.
That stop came just two plays later. Robbins took a quick step off of the edge and took down DeVito for a clutch eight-yard sack, halting the Illini momentum as the clock ticked towards a Hoosier victory in the game’s closing moments.
The play could not have come at a more important moment for IU, and Robbins’ coaches took notice after the fourth-year’s massive stop.
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“I mentioned him specifically in our team meeting this morning,” IU coach Tom Allen said on Monday. “So proud of Beau. What an amazing young person. Just a hard, hard worker. Smart, tough, dependable. He’s gained a lot of really good weight this offseason. He came up huge for us. Wasn’t just that play. He was rock solid in the run game doing his job.”
Robbins came through when the team needed someone to step up and make a play, a situation the team has seen a number of times over the years in big games in which the Hoosiers have come up short. Robbins, who grew up an IU fan and is the son of two alumni, said he remembered watching the Hoosiers come oh-so close against Ohio State in 2015 and 2017.
This time, however, the Hoosiers got the job done, and it was Robbins who sealed the deal for the team. Defensive coordinator Chad Wilt noticed his hard work all offseason, which paid off late for the Hoosiers.
“He just keeps attacking every day and attacking his craft,” Wilt said. “You really saw that show up.”
One factor which Allen mentioned as a major factor in the redshirt junior’s fourth-year improvement is his commitment to his diet. Robbins said that he eats white rice, vegetables and ground beef for dinner every night, substituting beef for chicken at lunch time, along with eggs every morning and protein shakes in between meals.
On the field, however, Robbins cites his focus on perfecting his defensive technique as one of his biggest improvements since arriving on campus in 2019.
“Getting to college and on the D-Line, realizing that everybody’s big and strong and fast, what separates is your technique and how effective you are at playing the position,” Robbins said. “For four years I have just drilled down on my footwork and my hips. I’ve worked thousands of reps over and over and over, and gotten to a point where that technique is just built in. I don’t even have to worry about it.”
While his commitment off the field to his body and his technique has contributed to his offseason gains, his commitment to his team and coaches are the reasons why he was in Bloomington at all on Friday night.
In modern college football, highly-touted recruits who see limited playing time early in their careers typically only go one place – the transfer portal – and while Robbins mentioned the portal as a looming possibility for all players, he believed that he only belonged at one school, and that his time to shine would come through hard work and patience.
“The feeling I got from getting to play and getting to be a big part of a win last night made all of the hardships worth it,” Robbins said. “It just means so much more to stick with it and play through it. And I just trust that if you work as hard as you can, you’re gonna get your opportunities and when you get those opportunities, just do your best to maximize it.”
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