"He's been fortunate and blessed to have some options," said Ken Robinson. Indeed that is the case. On Monday evening Georgia Tech Head Coach Chan Gailey came calling the Robinsons to extend Christian his eleventh offer. Robinson was already holding offers from the following: Georgia, South Carolina, LSU, Vanderbilt, Calvin Johnson playing for you either. But yeah, he did get that. He got North Carolina and Georgia Tech in the last couple of days."
The Robinsons took an unofficial visit to Tech during the spring and took in a practice along with a brief tour of the stadium facilities, weight room and locker room. But they have yet to do the kind of detailed, thorough investigating that would they'd probably go through on an official visit. "But as far as the life in the day of a Georgia Tech player, he hasn't had the opportunity but that's definitely something we want to do," said Robinson.
Ken, having been through the recruiting process himself years ago, had this to pass along to his son. "My advice to Christian is – the place that will separate itself and will make the decision for you will be based on the people, the relationships that you develop and how you feel about those people being head coach, in particular your position coach, the future teammates, the athletic training staff, and the academic folks," said Robinson. "That's what's going to be the deciding factor in my opinion. And that's kind of the advice I've been giving him. 'That's what I want you to look for – it always comes back to relationships. That's what's going to separate that place for you.'"
Not only does Mr. Robinson have college and NFL experience to reflect on in giving advice out to his son, but as his job he instructs Christian daily on the practice field. Ken is the Defensive Coordinator for GAC and that makes for an interesting dynamic when having the responsibility to coach your son along with others.
"It has its pluses and minuses," said Robinson. "I like telling the story of when we first started out. We were at home and I said something to him before we were going to get started and he kind of went into the kitchen and was sitting with his mom and I walked in and he was kind of upset at me. I just said to him, 'Christian, man you know we're in a tough spot. These next three or four years is a dot in time and I'm more concerned about our relationship 20 and 30 years down the road. You've got to decide whether you feel like I can coach you because as the defensive coordinator I'm responsible for all of it, so I'm going to coach the other kids and you have to decide whether you can handle me coaching you.' And he's handled it pretty well. I think it's a blessing in that we've been able to draw on our experiences on the football field in other areas of life and parenting and I think that's made it easier to shape them and guide them in other areas drawing on those little analogies. There have been some tough spots but overall I think it's been a blessing. And I think he would say that he feels the same way."
To help with the dynamic of coaching his son, Ken will get help from other position coaches to correct Christian so he doesn't always have to hear it from dad. "One of the things I've learned just in parenting is the importance of having other adults in the life of my kids that they respect, that they are going to reinforce and say a lot of the same things that I believe in and I carry that over on the football field as well," said Robinson.
When asked whether Christian played offense as well as defense, his father was very complimentary of his skills on that side of the ball. "He's a great wide receiver," said Robinson. "He really is. He's got great hands, moves well, and I look for him to be a big part of our offensive attack this fall." Last year with three senior wide receivers Christian was contributing offensively as a tight end. Christian really stood out there in the last two games of the season in particular. "Our last two ball games against Washington-Wilkes and Dublin – he had a big 70-yard touchdown catch against Washington-Wilkes on the third play of the game and had like 4 great catches against Dublin in the playoffs," said Robinson. "So, I imagine that's just a glimpse of what he can do on the offensive side."
Overall his father would probably classify him more as a great athlete rather just being good at one particular position given that he has even punted in addition to playing both sides of the ball. "He can do a lot of different things. He's a great athlete, great feet, runs well, great eyes, great vision and great hands," said Robinson.
Though most schools are looking at Christian exclusively as a linebacker, with the most recent offer from Georgia Tech came the first hint of a team considering him on offense. "Georgia Tech has been the first one that has kind of expressed that – the possibility of him playing on the offensive side of the ball as well. But I'm sure Coach (Jon) Tenuta likes him on the defensive side of the ball as well according to Coach (Charles) Kelly. But they've been the only one that has really talked offense at all."
Ken Robinson had a brief career as a linebacker with the Washington Redskins during a high point for that team. Unfortunately, a collar bone break in training camp caused him to miss much of the magical '87 season that culminated in a Super Bowl victory for the Redskins. He also played with them in '88 before injuries took their toll on him. Ken took away lessons from his pro experience that he passes down in his roles now as father and coach. "In the experience I got to meet a lot of great people and played for Coach (Joe) Gibbs, who has influenced a lot of my coaching philosophy and looking for character people first," said Robinson.
In terms of choosing among all of the offers the Robinsons have come up with a process and timeline to narrow the list from the current possibilities.
"Here's what I'm encouraging him to do and I think he'll listen to his dad," said Robinson. "We want to get through spring ball and we want narrow that list. I'm counting 11 offers but there are other people out there that are still in touch with him. The way the process is working now, a lot of the costs to visit these schools have been shifted to the parents. So, what I've encouraged him to do is to narrow the list to 5 or 6 and then in June we'll probably start visiting some of the schools on that list. I tell [the college coaches] that they all have great venues to play in whether it's an ACC school or and SEC school. And so what we're looking for again is the relationship piece that we've talked about. We're looking at the academic piece – trying to guide him through what he wants to major in and do they have that particular program. Like I tell him all the time – when I quit playing, I was a young guy and I tell him there's life after football."
For any team to make that cut down list, they are going to have to be on board with an offer by then. With the costs being what they are, the Robinsons say they want to see a commitment from the school before they go through the effort of taking visits. Robinson said, "I've had 2 pretty high profile programs sitting in my office talking about Christian and I said to both of those coaches – 'Christian has a lot of choices. I don't say that to be arrogant. That's not the point. But we're going to visit the schools that have offered him.' Now, if one of those schools come in and offer – and again this is Christian's choice but mom and dad still have influence on him and he's going to want to please us in some ways – so until that happens we're really going to visit those schools that have offered him."
If one of those schools wants to get on board down the road this is how Ken says it will be addressed. "Now after that if one of those schools makes an offer then, as a family, we'll sit down with Christian and say, 'do you want to visit?' And we'll look at that at that time."
Of course before any visits are taken, Christian is already starting to form some opinion and favorites. "He's probably already got an idea of those ones that are sticking out to him."
Getting all of the offers has been great but the tough part for Christian will be telling all but one that they are not the best fit for him. "I started prepping him for that a year ago," said Robinson. "He knows that he can only choose 1 and the people that have recruited him have all done a great job. The tough part is – at this point there are 11 and you have to say to 10 of those schools, 'that's not the place for me'. And that's tough for a kid. So, we're preparing him to deal with that."