Humility Defines Robinson

He's the consensus jewel crown of the Sun Devils' 2008 recruiting class. Yet, for all the accolades that precede Gerell Robinson, and the lofty expectations attached to him, you would be hard pressed to find a newcomer to ASU's team who is more unassuming than the Chandler Hamilton wide receiver. His recruitment was front page material, which ironically is in sharp contrast to his character.

"I'm not outspoken at all and to be honest with you if I could go under the radar as a two-star recruit I would," said the 6-4 215 Gerell Robinson. "From the outside looking in, it looks all cool getting all this attention. Being humble is tough when every person you meet says you're the best thing since sliced bread, and when you start to believe in that that's when people fall flat on their face."

"When people say that you're great, that's when you have to work hard and be dedicated."

Indeed, keeping grounded when the likes of Florida State, Florida, Texas, and Ohio State are already showing interest in you as a sophomore, seems like an insurmountable task. Speaking of insurmountable tasks, the hometown Sun Devils were facing an uphill battle early on in their efforts of landing the Hamilton standout.

Arizona State was one of several schools who approached Robinson in his sophomore year, and to say that the Sun Devils weren't on his recruiting radar back then would be an understatement. "I wasn't thinking about Arizona State and to be honest with you I didn't like them at all," Robinson admitted. "I just didn't care for the coaches they had then and just the program itself. They weren't having good seasons back then."

Anyone involved in the recruiting process would stress the importance of personal relationships. Robinson stated how tough it is being a young man talking to grown men who know how to persuade high school players to come and play for their programs.

"Sometimes you don't know if you should believe them or not," he noted, "but in the end you do end up building a rapport with some people and you feel a connection with." Namely, one of those individuals was ASU's defensive line coach Grady Stretz who recruited Robinson under the Devils' previous and current coaching regime.

"Coach Stretz is a great guy and my family likes him a lot," said Robinson. "He and the other ASU coaches were honest with me from the first day I met them. They were always positive and straight up. On a personal level I feel that I can talk to them about anything."

Coming down the stretch, Robinson's recruitment became a three-team race between ASU, Notre Dame and Oregon. The wide receiver was set to make his decision in the U.S. Army All-Star Game in San Antonio, and a couple of weeks before that game he dropped the Ducks from consideration. In a previous interview to Devils Digest Robinson explained that "With Coach Belotti interviewing at UCLA and the whole uncertainty around their quarterback situation, I just felt that it wasn't the right place for me."

His Hamilton head coach, Steve Belles, is a Notre Dame grad, which naturally helped the Fighting Irish to be seriously considered by Robinson. While Coach Belles never hid his feelings about his alma mater, Robinson stressed that Belles always told him to make the best decision for himself. The official visit to a school is one of the most important aspects of recruiting, and Robinson acknowledges that when he visited South Bend that "it wasn't really my environment and that's the main reason I didn't go there."

When he left for San Antonio, the wide receiver was down to ASU and Notre Dame, and didn't know who he was gonna verbal to until a couple of days before the game. "To be honest, I was leaning towards Notre Dame and my dad was leaning towards ASU," he recalled. "Going into the week of the U.S. Army All-Star game I thought I wasn't gonna make my commitment and just do it closer to signing day. But NBC asked me to make my commitment on air because they thought I was gonna commit to Notre Dame and they broadcast all their home games."

"It was a tough decision and I knew I couldn't go wrong with any of the two programs. Notre Dame will be a top program again and ASU is on the rise too. It really came down to the coaches and I was at peace when I talked to the ASU coaches before I left for San Antonio. But it was still a hard decision to make."

Going against the grain is a notion that defines Robinson. Thus, with over a dozen Notre Dame commitments at this All-Star game, repeatedly trying to sway Robinson to join them at South Bend, maybe it shouldn't have come as a surprise that the wide receiver pulled the trigger in the maroon and gold's favor.

"I had to make the best decision for me," Robinson explained. "If I went to Notre Dame, I would be joining a great group of guys. But I wanted to be the leader of the recruiting class and put players on my back and carry them. I felt that at Arizona State I had a great opportunity to do that. Sure enough, that's how people are looking at me now and I hope I can do that in the next few years."

Robinson was once committed to ASU's archrival, the University of Arizona. This is a move that he attributes to immaturity at the time. "I was a young kid with big aspirations," he said. "I wanted to be the face of the program, and I wanted to play quarterback in the system they ran. It seemed like a great fit for me."

As a signal caller in his senior year, Robinson completed 47-of-80 passes (58.8 pct.) for 843 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. As a part-time receiver, ("I really didn't practice at wide receiver in high school; I just played the position in games.") he caught 26 passes for 524 yards (20.2 avg.) with nine scores. Thus, it was apparent to this four-star prospect, ranked as the nation's 14th best WR by Scout.com that his niche at the next level would be on the other end of the passing game.

Whether it was playing at quarterback or wide receiver, Robinson feels that being in the open field would always allow him to make a big play. "When I played wide receiver the coaches just tried to put me there on an island against a cornerback, and use my height advantage to make plays," he said. "It really came natural to me to get in the open field, catch the ball, make a play and take it to the crib. The more I played wide receiver, the more I liked it."

His decision to now be recruited as a wide receiver and not as a quarterback, was more appealing to the schools recruiting him. Consequently, Robinson become more drawn to ASU and its receivers coach Eric Yarber, who's resume is one of the best in all of college football in his position. All-Pros Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were under the tutelage of Yarber at Oregon State, while another All-Pro, Terrell Owens, was coached by the ASU coach while he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers staff.

"Coach Yarber may be the biggest reason I came to ASU," said Robinson. "The pedigree that he brings, coaching all these great receivers, teaching them the skills and sitting in his office listening how he can help me be a great receiver – that really made an impression on me. He can improve me from a physical aspect and a mental aspect and help me get to the next level."

"He said that with the tools I'm blessed with it shouldn't be a problem at all. So that's what I‘m looking forward to the most – getting the hands-on approach from Coach Yarber."

As the 2007 college football season progressed the performance of both ASU and Arizona, caused Robinson to drop the Wildcats just four months after his commitment, and give the Sun Devils heavier than ever consideration.

"Even after I committed to Arizona, ASU did a great job handling it and never pressured me," Robinson stated. "They stuck with me the whole time. Arizona didn't have the greatest season, and I was starting to think that I'm really gonna play wide receiver in college. I de-committed from Arizona and here I am today."

Robinson played in two other high schools prior to Hamilton. His freshman year was spent at Tempe Marcos De Niza, and his sophomore season was at Phoenix Desert Vista. By his own admission he hates moving, but he did enjoy the many players he got to interact with along the way, and some of them will be his new Sun Devil teammates.

Nonetheless, his dislike for moving didn't affect his decision to stay close to home for college. "I really thought I was gonna leave the state to go to college," he said, "and I didn't mind it because I knew I was going to a place where I was gonna settle for three, four years. But it's obviously nice that I'm moving just 15 minutes from home and am familiar with the area."

Much like former Hamilton teammate and soon to-be fellow ASU wide receiver Kerry Taylor, Robinson was a permanent fixture at the team's spring practices, missing just one out of the 15 sessions. Taylor's development, which in part is attributed to his own spring practice attendance last year, wasn't lost on Robinson.

"I learned a lot from going to wide receiver meetings and then seeing them do the drills on the practice field," said Robinson. "I know how much it helped Kerry, and if I wanna contribute my first year, I need to work hard to learn this offense and get in shape. When my number is called I got to be ready."

"That's what I'm preparing my body for. That's what I'm preparing mentally for. I'll be in the weight room everyday getting my body in the best shape it's been, so I can contribute right away. I'm gonna study that playbook every chance I have. I'm gonna do everything I need to do to put myself in a position where I can step up to the plate and handle anything that's thrown at me."

With Robinson's exceptional balance of talent and character it is likely that his impact will be felt early and that ultimately his legacy in the maroon and gold will be a storied one.

Recruit Profile

Name

Gerrell Robinson

High School

Chandler Hamilton

Position

WR

Height

6-4

Weight

215

Date of Birth

10/13/89

Birthplace

Gary, Ind.

Nickname

"G-Rob. It's been like that since first grade."

Favorite TV Show

"SportsCenter"

Favorite Movie

"Super Troopers"

Favorite Singer

"Young Jeezy"

Favorite Food

"Cheeseburger"

Favorite Drink

"Dr. Pepper"

Favorite Athlete

"Kobe Bryant"

Favorite Pro Team

"Los Angeles Lakers"

Person you most admire

"Michael Jordan. He got cut from his high school team as a sophomore, but had the determination to come back. He has accomplished not only a lot of things in sports, but also gave a lot back to his community."

First Football Memory

"When I was playing Youth Football in San Antonio I was averaging six touchdowns a game. I was like ten years old and I remember those days like it was yesterday. The first game I ever played I had eight touchdowns, but two of them were called back."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I'm a well-rounded person, and I don't like publicity."

Why did you choose ASU?

"By going to Arizona State I can write my own destiny. I'm gonna play for Coach Erickson, have the support of my hometown and get to play right away."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"A lot of people say the NFL, but as long as I'm successful and I accomplished a lot, I'll be happy with whatever I'll be doing."


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