Allen Robinson couldn't believe the news.
Earlier this month, the wide receiver ahead of him on the depth chart, Justin Brown, decided to leave. The man he trained aside of, grabbed lunch with and shared laughs with announced his transfer to Oklahoma.
"I was a little surprised," Robinson said. "Maybe it pushed me a little bit more."
With Brown's departure, someone needed to claim the spot of top wideout. Some pointed to the next experienced wideout in line, redshirt junior Shawney Kersey. But Kersey's experience was overshadowed by Robinson's work ethic.
Robinson practiced most summer days by fine-tuning his technique and running routes. Over and over again. He ran short routes, intermediate routes, long routes. He repeated the process so often he went from a self-proclaimed "decent" route-runner to a great one in just a few months.
"He can make all his routes look the same," cornerback Stephon Morris said, "and that's what I love about him."
Joe Paterno didn't mention Robinson's name once last offseason. But, after the sophomore's past backbreaking offseason, Bill O'Brien has praised him during just about every opportunity.
"He's big, he's fast, he's got good hands," O'Brien said Tuesday. "He's smart, he's instinctive. So he's a guy that we think is going to be a good player for us."
When O'Brien released the depth chart Monday, Robinson was the lone receiver to earn a starting job. Kersey and Trevor Williams will conted for the No. 2 outside spot, while Alex Kenney and Evan Lewis will split time at the slot.
Last year at this time, Robinson wasn't even one of seven receivers listed on the depth chart.
"He had a great camp," linebacker Michael Mauti said. "He's one of the receivers we're going to be counting on more. He's going to be a big part of this offense."
Robinson, a balanced 6-foot-3 wideout, caught just three passes last season and competed in about seven plays a game. Now, he'll be squaring off against team's top cornerbacks.
But he said he's prepared. Robinson has broken down film and worked on techniques with wide receivers coach Stan Hixon. When those defensive backs expect one look, Robinson said he knows when to throw another one out there.
"I'm definitely excited for the season to begin," he said. "We've been looking forward to this since the season ended last year."