The Business of Bijan: Robinson's growing stardom is a family affair

Published:Mar 8, 202422:45

By Laken Litman
FOX Sports activities Faculty Soccer Author

Lengthy earlier than he was a Heisman candidate and a projected prime choose within the 2023 NFL Draft, Bijan Robinson performed imaginary soccer video games. 

He’d reduce photos out of recreation day applications — of any participant, not simply starters — then paste the heads on toothpicks or popsicle sticks. He’d orchestrate the video games, identical to his grandfather did in real-life.

Cleo Robinson hung round Bijan’s idols each weekend for work, working as a Pac-12 official for 3 many years, most lately as a part of the league’s prime prompt replay crew. He was the one who collected the applications to deliver to his grandson. Now Cleo, who retired within the spring at age 75, is the one off the sector, watching his grandson’s childhood imaginative and prescient develop into actuality.

"I’ve been round so many nice athletes officiating school soccer. Now, it’s sort of stunning to see, ‘Hey, that’s my grandson doing this stuff now,’" Cleo says. "He’s that particular person I’ve been admiring all this time." 

Bijan Robinson has all the time been shut together with his grandfather Cleo, a Pac-12 official for 3 many years. (Picture courtesy of Terri Robinson)

Whereas Cleo performed an enormous position in fueling Bijan’s love of the sport, his impression goes deeper — touching each a part of Bijan’s life. Their relationship is past the standard grandfather-grandson dynamic, nearer to father-son. Bijan even calls him Dad.

"He cherished soccer and he cherished Dad," Bijan’s grandmother Terri says. "One of many issues that tickles me once I watch him now could be [when he was little] he would all the time throw himself on the bottom and say, ‘Deal with me! Deal with me! Deal with me!’ 

"And now it’s the other. He hates to be tackled and does no matter he can to not be tackled."

Alabama will learn the way tough it's to sort out Robinson in Saturday’s matchup between Texas and No. 1 Alabama (midday ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities App), although the Crimson Tide already is aware of it’s going to be a large chore.

Alabama vs. Texas: Keys to the sport

Alabama vs. Texas: Keys to the game

RJ Younger is joined by Geoff Schwartz to interrupt down the keys to Saturday's contest between Texas and Alabama.

"He can do every little thing," Alabama coach Nick Saban stated of Robinson this week. "He’s acquired pace, he’s acquired energy. He’s a really instinctive runner. He units up his blockers and has a burst. He’s acquired nice fingers, he’s a superb receiver. They use him within the passing recreation. 

"This man is nearly as good of an all-around again as there most likely is within the nation."

With expectations in Austin this season for the Longhorns to win the Large 12 championship behind Robinson’s rising star, Bijan is leaning on what acquired him right here within the first place: his household.

*** *** ***

Bijan’s grandparents have all the time been a giant a part of his life. When his mom, LeMore Saul, acquired pregnant in school, the household determined collectively that for her to maintain her scholarship and graduate, she would transfer again dwelling together with her dad and mom in Tucson, Ariz., and lift Bijan there. Cleo stepped in as his father determine.

It was a welcome improvement for each. Cleo and Terri have two daughters, so the ladies within the family outnumbered the lads. 

Cleo remembers coming dwelling from work journeys, yelling to the ladies — who had been chatting within the bed room — that he was dwelling, then seeing Bijan’s head pop up with a squeal: "Oh my gosh, it’s Dad!"

"The look on [Bijan’s] face was, ‘Get me out of right here!’" Cleo says with a chuckle. "'Right here’s a dude I can grasp with.'"

(Grand)father and (grand)son shortly turned hooked up. When Saul acquired married, a younger Bijan had the choice to maneuver into a brand new dwelling together with his mother, stepfather and his kids, or preserve residing together with his grandparents. He determined to remain put.

"Cleo is the one dad he’s ever recognized and what younger boy desires to depart their dad?" Terri says.

Soccer was an early bonding level.

Bijan began enjoying flag soccer when he was 5 or 6, operating the improper course for a landing the primary two instances he acquired the ball. He started to point out off strikes he noticed on TV or at Cleo’s video games, and shortly fell in love with Reggie Bush – whose No. 5 he now wears at Texas. (Cleo, after all, had labored the well-known "Bush Push" recreation in 2005.)

Bijan and Terri attended many video games Cleo was officiating, particularly in the event that they had been at close by Arizona State. A younger Bijan would get so animated that it impressed season ticket holders of their part. 

"It even acquired to the purpose the place it was like 4 guys and so they’d change off holding Bijan on their shoulders so he had a greater view of the sport," Terri says.

Except for his rising ardour for the sport, there have been additionally early indicators of considered one of Bijan’s pure strengths: his imaginative and prescient. At Texas, he runs north-south, picks up brief yards and is seldom tackled for a loss. It’s a talent that his grandmother seen when he first began enjoying sort out soccer at age 8 or 9.

Bijan Robinson displayed unusual imaginative and prescient early on, as soon as telling his grandmother Terri, "I do know the place I’m going earlier than I get there." (Picture courtesy of Terri Robinson)

"He stated, ‘I do know the place I’m going earlier than I get there,’" Terri remembers. "And he checked out me as if to have the ability to assist him perceive how he is aware of that and I had no clue. I stated, ‘You do?’ And he stated, ‘Yeah, once they hand me the ball, I already know the place I’m gonna find yourself earlier than I get there.’ 

"I believed that was fascinating, however left it there. Later, once I started to listen to folks speak about his imaginative and prescient, I used to be like, that’s what’s occurring. That was the second I knew this was a God-given reward. He didn’t perceive it both, however I believe that was the purpose the place I acknowledged there was one thing a bit totally different about him."

*** *** ***

Whereas Terri went to each considered one of Bijan’s video games at Salpointe Excessive Faculty, Cleo was pressured to overlook most of them for work. However he’d all the time watch a replay later so the 2 may hash out Bijan’s efficiency.

At Salpointe, Robinson turned Arizona’s profession all-time main rusher (7,036 yards) and landing chief (114) in 4 years. He additionally turned the primary operating again in state historical past to run for greater than 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He was named Gatorade Arizona Excessive Faculty Soccer Participant of the 12 months as a senior in 2019 and 247Sports ranked him the No. 1 operating again and No. 15 total participant within the nation. The extremely touted recruit ended up selecting Texas over powerhouse applications like Alabama, USC, Ohio State and Notre Dame. 

Final 12 months as a sophomore at Texas, he rushed for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 video games, lacking the ultimate two after injuring his elbow in a loss to Kansas. And because the 2022 season will get underway, he's a Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker Award candidate.

And as his fame has grown, so has the Enterprise of Bijan.

Bijan Robinson is crushing the NIL recreation

Bijan Robinson is crushing the NIL game

Matt Leinart catches up with Texas star Bijan Robinson to debate his NIL offers, in addition to his love for legendary USC operating again Reggie Bush.

From the very starting, Robinson’s soccer profession has been a household affair, from his mother and grandparents supporting him at his highschool video games to speaking store together with his grandfather. Now his aunt, Cleyrissa, manages his enterprise dealings, which embrace all of his NIL contracts. 

Bijan has no less than 10 partnerships, together with C4 Vitality and Lamborghini Austin (although he solely drives that on the weekends and would somewhat sit behind the wheel of his truck). 

"I strive to not flash it out," he says. "That’s not me." 

A condiment firm lately gave him a deal and named a mustard after him: "Bijan Mustardson: The Official Dijon of Bijan."

"You see him on the soccer area doing his factor, you see him in commercials, you examine him. You’d suppose, ‘Wow, what an amazing man,"’ his grandfather says. "Then you definately bear in mind: He’s simply Bijan."

*** *** ***

Robinson hears the Heisman hype and sees it on social media, although he tries to disregard it. 

"If you begin moving into that, you begin believing it and then you definately work much less," he says. "So I don’t actually get into it."

However he’s feeling extra assured than ever, telling reporters at Large 12 media days in July he has bulked up from 213 kilos final season to 222.

"Now I can break that further sort out or make an additional transfer to get ultimately zone," he says. "I simply wanted to get that on my physique for this season so I’ll be prepared for it." 

He’s additionally been watching movie extra critically, together with Alabama’s losses final 12 months to Texas A&M and Georgia. 

"These groups didn’t again down," Bijan says. "They got here in there and punched them within the mouth and did not cease. They did not quit within the third quarter or fourth quarter. They made it a canine struggle the entire recreation. 

"If you match that depth and perceive that it's worthwhile to deliver that very same fireplace again to them, then that is when video games can go the way in which you need it otherwise you did every little thing you possibly can to get what you need. And so that is what they did and what we have to do."

Bijan Robinson has bulked up from 213 kilos final season to 222. "Now I can break that further sort out or make an additional transfer to get ultimately zone," he says. (Picture by Tim Warner/Getty Photographs)

Whereas the Alabama recreation brings the best anticipation this weekend, probably the most particular half for the Robinson household is that Cleo will not should miss it for work. In actual fact, it will likely be the primary time Cleo is ready to attend consecutive Bijan video games. Retirement has its perks.

"After I informed Bijan [I was retiring], he was like, ‘Sure!’" Cleo says. "We all the time speak after his video games, however I might solely speak in generalities as a result of I hadn’t seen it. Now we will speak specifics.  

"Folks have tendencies to construct him up and construct him up, however good issues don’t assist you get higher. It is advisable know the dangerous issues."

That’s precisely what Bijan Robinson expects from Dad.

Learn extra on Texas-Alabama:

Laken Litman covers school soccer, school basketball and soccer for FOX Sports activities. She beforehand wrote for Sports activities Illustrated, USA In the present day and The Indianapolis Star. She is the writer of "Robust Like a Girl," printed in spring 2022 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX. Observe her on Twitter @LakenLitman.

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