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‘He’s playing big now’: Jakob Robinson continues to make plays for Cougars when they need them most

BYU cornerback Jakob Robinson intercepts a pass in the end zone during a game against the Sam Houston at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. The former Orem High star added a second interception on the Bearkats next drive.

Jakob Robinson has a knack for making big plays.

As a freshman in 2021, he delivered a pair of game-changing interceptions on back-to-back possessions to lift BYU to a win at Georgia Southern.

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Southern Utah (0-1)
at BYU (1-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m. MDT
Provo, Utah
TV: Big 12 Now on ESPN+
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Last December, as a sophomore, Robinson dropped SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai during a two-point conversion attempt with eight seconds remaining in the New Mexico Bowl. The tackle preserved the Cougars’ 24-23 victory.

Last Saturday, the junior cornerback picked off a pair of passes against Sam Houston as the BYU defense shut out the Bearkats in a 14-0 win.

Not bad for a kid once considered too small for BYU.

“He has so much ability and he’s a playmaker,” said Cougars coach Kalani Sitake. “I know people questioned his size before, but he’s playing big now.”

Robinson, a three-time state champion at Orem High, played one year at Utah State before transferring to Provo. He is a big piece of Jay Hill’s defensive revival. Not only did the Cougars shut out Sam Houston, but they also held the Bearkats to just 2 of 14 on third down — an area of weakness a year ago.

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“We are just trying to show everyone what we can do,” Robinson said. “We play fast. We play physical. Everyone is going to run to the ball and we’ll all tackle.”

Robinson is 5-feet-11 and 170 pounds. His leadership role in the secondary took on additional significance after fall camp injuries to Micah Harper and Talan Alfrey left Robinson as the lone returning starter in the secondary.

His leadership was called on last Saturday after Sam Houston stuffed BYU’s fake punt attempt in the third quarter and drove the ball to the Cougars’ 6-yard line. Trailing 7-0, the eager Bearkats broke the huddle with a plan and Robinson knew exactly what to do.

“I walked over to Eddie (Heckard) and said, ‘They are going to run this rub-route that I watched the day before on film — and they sure did,” Robinson said. “I saw the slot come up and stutter his feet and bounce outside.”

Robinson charged toward the receiver, leaped up into the air and intercepted Keegan Shoemaker in spectacular fashion to preserve the lead. On Sam Houston’s very next possession, Robinson intercepted Shoemaker again to trigger BYU’s second touchdown drive.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to be around the ball,” Robinson said. “If it’s not coming toward me, I’ll find a way to get near it.”

Boise State tight end Tyneil Hopper tries to avoid the tackle attempt by BYU defensive back Jakob Robinson after a reception on Nov. 5, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. BYU won 31-28. | Steve Conner, Associated Press
Boise State tight end Tyneil Hopper tries to avoid the tackle attempt by BYU defensive back Jakob Robinson after a reception on Nov. 5, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. BYU won 31-28. | Steve Conner, Associated Press

You can see Dave McCann’s entire interview with Jakob Robinson Saturday on “BYU Sports Nation Game Day” at 11 a.m. on BYUtv.