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The Gelen Robinson Conundrum

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Purdue's talented sophomore defensive end is in limbo on the eve of fall camp.

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

If you have been reading this site for awhile you know of the "Curse of the 4 Stars" as a term I have coined for the rare four-star football recruits that the Boilers get. In basketball we get 4-star guys all the time and they often work out. In football, we only get 1-2 per recruiting cycle it seems. Since football classes are much larger, that means the few 4-star commits we do get should be standout players that make a huge difference.

Well, they stand out, alright. I call it the Curse of the 4 Stars because almost without exception they never work out. Nearly every 4-star player Purdue has recruited in the last 10 years has failed to complete their eligibility with us. Of players that should be on this year's roster in terms of eligibility Carlos Carvajal, Danny Etling, and Gelen Robinson have either left or have had a major issue. We also have had O.J. Ross, Selwyn Limon, and Al-Terek McBurse as players who entered with hype and left with a whimper.

Purdue is simply not good enough of a team to have these guys fail to pan out. These are players that, according to recruiting rankings, should be instant impact guys on a talent deficient roster and instead they flame out.

Which brings us to Gelen Robinson. He entered Purdue with a ton of hype. He is the son of possibly our greatest basketball player ever. He was the highest rated player in the 2014 recruiting class and was expected to be an instant impact player if not start immediately. Tons of hype was put on him as the next great defensive end.

So what have we gotten so far? 20 tackles in a reserve role, two sacks, and now two arrests. He enters the 2015 season likely facing a lengthy suspension and he is damn lucky to still be on the team at all.

So what happened? How did he lose his way and is there still hope he can turn things around? We don't know what is going on behind the scenes, but there could be some personal issues afoot. It is a red flag that he was busted for minor possession of alcohol last August and he entered into a diversion agreement that stated:

"among other things not to "consume alcohol or alcoholic beverages" and not to "enter any bar, tavern or liquor store" for the duration of the agreement, which lasts until Aug. 3, 2015."

That is pretty standard for any freshman that gets busted for having a beer around the Excise Police. Unfortunately, Gelen made the colossally dumb mistake of getting behind the wheel at nearly twice the legal limit on June 20th. This is more than a simple error in judgment. This is putting lives at risk.

So with now two alcohol-related offenses under his belt there has to be concern for him going forward not just as a player, but as a person. He just turned 20 on June 10th, so he has a bright future ahead of him no matter what he does. One of my concerns as an armchair psychologist is that he is trying to do too much. As a state champion wrestler and thrower in HS, he is used to juggling several different things, but the stakes are higher now. When it was announced a few months ago that he was not only going to wrestle, but throw stuff for the men's track team during both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

That is quite a bit on a young man's plate in addition to the usual stress of freshman year classes. In college the travel alone for all three sports is infinitely more than in high school. This is before you consider practices, conditioning, and everything else.

There is this caveat, at least, in the article about him participating in three sports:

"One of coach Hazell's requirements - I can't miss anything academic and anything football just because those are my main two focuses in my college career," Robinson said. "If my grades were to slip at all that would be a problem, especially with football. They wouldn't want me competing in another sport if I weren't getting my requirements for academics."

This is good, because right now it is pretty clear that Gelen needs to refocus on some things. He has A LOT going on, and I am betting that one of his conditions to returning to football will be cutting track and wrestling (in addition to a lengthy suspension). It is sad to see that we have been down this road before, where a talented player continues to get sidetracked by off the field stuff despite multiple chances (paging Kelsey Barlow). I have no doubt that Gelen is a good kid, but I am concerned that he has two arrests and is likely at the point where one more mistake can really put him adrift.