Bijan Robinson has been involved in some big college football games, but his grandfather was a referee for one of the most infamous.
Left: Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images, Right: (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Image

Bijan Robinson's Grandfather Was a Referee Who Worked the 'Bush Push' Game

Texas running back Bijan Robinson, a Tucson, Arizona, native and soon-to-be NFL player, will eagerly wait for his name to be called during the NFL Draft on Thursday in Kansas City.
Although Robinson may not be well known among the majority of NFL fans just yet, college football fans may recognize his grandfather, Cleo Robinson, who was a referee during the 2005 USC versus Notre Dame football game, also known as the "Bush Push" game.

The "Bush Push"Connection 

The college football game took place on Oct. 15, 2005, at Notre Dame Stadium and was dubbed the "Game of the Century" by some, including ESPN's College Game Day. In the last play of the game, with three seconds left, USC quarterback Matt Leinart looked as if he might spike the ball but instead attempted to sneak it into the end zone. When he was stopped by the Notre Dame defensive line, running back Reggie Bush pushed him over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown, resulting in a 34-31 USC victory.

Cleo Robinson and the Pac-12 officiating crew ruled the play a touchdown. At the time, the play was illegal, as the NCAA rulebook stated that "the runner shall not grasp a teammate; and no other player of his team shall grasp, push, lift or charge into him to assist him in forward progress." In 2014, this rule was changed, and a play like the "Bush Push" would now be considered a legal touchdown.

Football Runs in the Robinson Family

Bijan Robinson #5 of the Texas Longhorns runs past a West Virginia Mountaineers defender in the second half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Tim Warner/Getty Images

As a young boy, Bijan Robinson dreamed of being a football player while his grandfather, Cleo, officiated college football games. Cleo was instrumental in Bijan's development both on and off the field, helping to raise him along with Bijan's mother, LaMore Sauls, while they lived with Cleo and his wife, Gerri. Cleo would often work on drills with the budding star after games when Bijan was setting records at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson.

While being a tremendous talent on the field, Bijan was also known for being kind and well-mannered off the field. Both he and his coach attributed that to Cleo, Gerri and the Robinson's family values. Then-Salpointe Catholic head coach Dennis Bene said of Bijan and the Robinsons. "They are very grounded in their family and their faith,...You can see that in Bijan. He is very, very humble and extremely hard working. It's also a blessing to have that kind of kid in the program."

Cleo was an all-state linebacker and track star in Arizona, and his brother Paul Robinson was a running back at the University of Arizona. Paul went on to be a third-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1968 NFL Draft, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and two Pro Bowl appearances in his NFL career. Cleo pursued football in a different capacity after high school, becoming a college football official for the Pac-10 and Big Sky conferences before becoming an instant replay official for the Pac-12.

Bijan Robinson is a First-Round NFL Draft Prospect

Bijan Robinson #5 of the Texas Longhorns reacts after a second quarter touchdown against the Oklahoma State Cowboys

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Before the Texas football standout was breaking ankles in the Big 12, he set a high school record for rushing yards at Salpointe Catholic (7,036) and played in the All-American Bowl. His college football career in Austin saw him win MVP of the Alamo Bowl and the Doak Walker Award his senior season for the nation's best running back. He ranks fourth all-time in Longhorn history with 3,410 rushing yards and 41 total touchdowns.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly where Bijan Robinson will land in the NFL Draft's first round. Some NFL mock drafts have the best running back in this class climbing the rankings and going in the top 10. That feat would see the young prospect trending on social media on draft night. Others project the star rusher as a late first-rounder, possibly going to a playoff contender such as the Kansas City Chiefs. The football team that does end up with this highly decorated draft prospect will not be sorry they drafted him over other potential first-round picks.

MORE: First-Round Running Backs Are a Dying Breed, Which Creates a Bijan Robinson Conundrum