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An Interview with Former Iowa State Running Back Alexander Robinson

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What’s #33 up to these days?

Iowa State v Colorado Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Alexander Robinson played for Iowa State from 2007 to 2010, becoming only the fifth Iowa State running back to reach more than 3,000 yards in career rushing according to Cyclones.com. Prior to Mike Warren’s 1,339 yard season in 2015, A-Rob was the last Cyclone to top the thousand-yard mark with 1,195 in 2009. In the last bowl win for ISU (2009 Insight Bowl), he toted the rock 22 times and racked up 137 yards on the ground against Minnesota.

What’s A-Rob up to these days? I asked him a few questions to find out.

Do you have any opening thoughts about Iowa State before we get started?

A-Rob: I had a blast playing at Iowa State. Beautiful campus, loyal fans, and one of the best college football atmospheres I have ever experienced with Jack Trice Stadium.

What have you been up to in regards to career, family, where you’re living, etc.?

A-Rob: My life has been pretty hectic recently, but I am currently living back in my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I bought a house here about four years ago and have been working full time since 2012. I started my MBA and am about a year into that right now. I never actually envisioned myself going back to school, but it’s honestly been one of the most stimulating things I’ve ever done. On top of going to school and working full time, I’m now coaching running backs at my former high school. Last season was my first season coaching and it’s been thoroughly enjoyable.

How did playing football help prepare you for where youre at currently in life?

A-Rob: Football afforded me the ability to acquire/hone several qualities that were essential for progressing to where I am currently at in life. Here are a few of many:

Teamwork: Learning how to work with others to achieve common goals and objectives is paramount to being successful. No one can accomplish anything great alone, you have to work with others to accomplish so much in life. I found that football gave me the opportunity to understand how to collaborate with people from all different realms of life and it has served me well in the work force.

Adversity: To be specific overcoming adversity, football teaches you how to respond when times get tough. There are so many ebbs and flows throughout the course of a game, season, and career that you have to be resilient mentally in order to overcome them. Injuries, deficits, and losses teach you so much about yourself and your team. The same goes for life, it’s full of ups and downs, but football teaches you how to stay the course, remain focused, and overcome those adverse situations.

Accountability: In football, you have the expectation that each and every day the man next to you is going to show up ready to work to the best of their ability. Everyone expects you to carry your weight in order for the team to be successful. Coach Herman had a saying when he was at Iowa State called “1-0.” Win your match-up and trust that the man next to you will win his, don’t worry about the next play, just play this play. This is a quality that I take extreme pride in, especially in the workforce, people want to know that they can depend on you day in and day out to complete your work without being forced or constantly motivated.

Insight Bowl - Minnesota v Iowa State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What was the best story you had from your time at Iowa State? In-game story, life event, etc.

A-Rob: I would say my entire career at Iowa State was the best story. There was a large number of people there, outside of football, who had a profound impact on my life without even knowing it.

There are several other stories I could share but if I had to pick an individual story I would have to say the victory over Minnesota in the 2009 Insight Bowl. The collection of guys that made up that team had been through so much from Gene Chizik’s departure, to the Nebraska game where half the team played through illness, to being bowl eligible for the first time in a number of years. Then, to cap the season winning a close game against Minnesota makes it probably my most memorable season from Iowa State. There are a ton of great stories from my time at Iowa State, but fall 2009 and that football season will forever remain my favorite.

What was it like playing for Tom Herman? Are you surprised that Herman is head coach of Texas less than a decade after coming to ISU?

A-Rob: Nothing Tom Herman does surprises me. Obviously I played for him fairly early on in his college coaching career so he’s grown as a coach since then, but he was always always extremely well-prepared, driven, thorough, and enthusiastic at Iowa State.

One thing people don’t realize about him is how great of a motivator he is. On top of always being high energy, he always had motivational quotes or phrases prepared for us. He understood all of his players and knew unique ways to challenge them. I think he lives for and thrives off challenges, even for himself. I visited Coach Kenneth Pope (one of my running back coaches at ISU) in Houston two years ago for Coach Herman’s first season and you could see the growth in him just from the atmosphere that he cultivated at Houston. Guys have fun playing for him. Don’t be surprised if Texas has a ton of success this year and is in the playoffs within three years of him being there.

Have you met Matt Campbell and staff? If so, what are your thoughts?

A-Rob: Unfortunately, due to my schedule I have not had a chance to meet Mr. Campbell or his staff yet. I know several former players have and rave about him and his staff’s energy and coaching.

What are your thoughts on this running back group of Mike Warren, David Montgomery, and Kene Nwangwu?

A-Rob: I haven’t watched this group a ton and I believe Nwangwu got hurt this offseason, but I love them as a group. I actually was a guest on a podcast with Zack Spears, Jeff Woody and Austen Arnaud after the Baylor game last year, where I talked about how with all of them being young guys, it’s good to constantly have competition in the room. No one can relax because the next guy is right there ready to take your spot if you aren’t producing. Warren has proven that he can produce in the Big 12 and can be a home run hitter. Nwangwu has proven to be a home run hitter as well. I think Montgomery has shown to be that consistent back and calming force that can grind out yards where needed. I also like what the coaches have done using Trever Ryen as another threat out of the backfield and on fly sweeps.

What would you say your best accomplishment as a Cyclone would be?

A-Rob: I think if I were to say best overall accomplishment as a Cyclone, it would be graduating in four years with a degree in business while playing football. It’s tough to come in as an 18 year old kid, have the foresight to make decisions regarding your future, and handle the schedule college athletes have.

If I were to look at it from a football perspective I would have to say being voted captain by my teammates my senior year or being voted team MVP twice.

Where could you find the best tacos in Ames?

A-Rob: Ironically I wasn’t a huge taco guy in college, while I have grown to love shrimp tacos, I was much more of a breakfast guy. When I learned that Perkins offered to-go service, I may have personally kept the Perkins on Duff profitable. I’ve heard Es Tas offers the best tacos in Ames, however.

Finally, as a member of a bowl team, does this 2017 team have what it takes to go bowling?

A-Rob: I do believe this 2017 team has what it takes to go bowling. From an offensive talent perspective they have everything you want in a Big 12 team. I think you look at the games played last year against Baylor, Okie State, K-State, and Oklahoma, they were competitive throughout. So there should be no lack of confidence. The key will be if everyone’s bought in to what Coach Campbell and his staff are coaching and if they’ve put in the work this off-season in order to be mentally tough enough to finish off those close games.


WRNL would like to thank A-Rob for taking the time to answer our questions and we wish him good luck as he continues to work toward his MBA!