RECRUITING: Baseball X-Factor For Robinson

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood is PK Yonge School where Florida commitment Derrick Robinson is readying for a season of college football that might never happen. Robinson pledged to sign with Urban Meyer back in the fall, looking to continue a tradition of PK Yonge standouts that have succeeded in Orange and Blue. Willie Jackson, Terry Jackson, Chris Doering, Travis McGriff and most recently Eric Rutledge have all made the short walk across SW 13th Street to the UF campus.

Unlike that group, however, Derrick Robinson has an option that may keep him from playing in The Swamp in the future. Robinson is a standout baseball prospect who is expected to be chosen rather early in the June Major League Baseball Draft. So while he goes about lifting and running and preparing for football at the next level he also has one eye trained on the draft and the decision he will eventually be forced to make.

I went over to PK Friday afternoon to check in on Derrick on talk about his preparations both for college football and the baseball season that will in many ways help determine his future.

LV: Derrick how has it gone for you since you made your decision?

DR: It's been going pretty smooth. I've just been working out and not worrying about the recruiting process since I committed.

LV: Are you glad you got it over with?

DR: Yeah, very happy.

LV: How much have you been paying attention to the way recruiting has gone for the Gators and all the top guys who are coming in with you?

DR: I have been talking with the guys or anything like that but I've been hearing about how everyone thinks we have the number one class. It's really getting me hyped for football.

LV: As you prepare for it are you getting ready as a receiver or a corner?

DR: Actually I think they are going to move me with corner and I don't have any problem with that. I like to be as physical a player as I can be.

LV: Do you like the opportunity corner presents since Florida really doesn't have many (4) guys there right now?

DR: I know I'm going to have work hard for any position if there's a lot of guys there or not, but I guess you could say there's an opening.

LV: You are also an outstanding baseball prospect; tell me about your baseball interest and abilities.

DR: Well I've been playing baseball my whole life so it's pretty much a part of me. I'm pretty fast on the bases and I'm a switch-hitter. I have a pretty strong arm, I guess.

LV: There's no controlling what might happen on draft day in June, how much is that on your mind right now?

DR: I'm just taking it a step at a time and thinking about my high school baseball season right now.

LV: Have you locked down a certain round or a certain dollar amount it will take for you to turn pro in baseball and give up college football?

DR: Yeah, I have…. (Grinning and chuckling)

LV: Does that put you in an awkward position, preparing for your freshman year of football even though it may not ever happen?

DR: Yeah it does, but I can't think about that I'm just preparing for both of them and I'll take the best opportunity when the time comes.

* * *

Yes, I asked him about $$$ he had in mind but he wasn't giving that up. I then spoke with PK Yonge Coach John Clifford, himself a former Gator about Derrick Robinson.

LV: John, give me an assessment of Derrick as a football prospect.

JC: Well he's extremely gifted. He's a threat as far as his speed is concerned and his hands are concerned. The only problem I see is that Derrick has missed a lot of football the past two years so he might be a bit behind as far as that's concerned.

LV: How much has baseball gotten in the way in terms of him be able to take part in spring practices and that sort of thing?

JC: He's missed a lot because of that and our teams tend to go pretty deep into the playoffs. He played a lot more baseball this summer than of course I would have liked for him to play. But he came back this year the first two football games and rushed for 200 yards in each game and passed for 150 yards in each game so that shows you how talented the kid really is. Once he gets to the next level it's an adjustment for anybody, but he's got the intelligence to handle it. Obviously he has the speed but he's a great runner, a great tackler and an exceptional return guy. Personally, I would put him at receiver if I was his college coach.

LV: Well since Derrick says he's being moved to corner let's talk about him as a prospect there. What kind of transition would that be?

JC: Well my only concern would be like it is for any player going from high school to college is it's a lot more complicated. It's no longer just cover-2 or cover-3 there's a lot more than happens. But, Derrick certainly has the capability of picking things up quickly.

LV: You have sent so many players to UF that have done exceptionally well, where would Derrick rate among those guys at this stage?

JC: I think the development thing would be relative to the amount of football he's missed during his time here. Derrick missed a lot of his junior year with a broken arm while Terry (Jackson) probably didn't miss a play in four years. As far as a natural talent, he's as gifted as anybody I've ever had here. Robert Baker (Auburn) might have been the player who was the best I ever had but Derrick has the potential to have done the same things had he had the number of games that Robert did.

* * *

Derrick Robinson is a keeper, plain and simple. He's a polite, respectful young man with a world of talent. The problem is, odds are Florida won't get to have him let alone keep him. Baseball prospects with his speed are incredibly rare And with Major League Baseball facing dwindling numbers of black players, it seems very unlikely they won't meet Derrick's "price" whatever that turns out to be.

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