Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY

Patience pays off for No. 1 punter Brad Robbins to U-M

Michigan’s last signee in their highly rated 2017 recruiting class was Westerville (OH.) South senior punter Brad Robbins. He discusses his journey to Ann Arbor, meeting with Jim Harbaugh and more.

Weeks leading up to Signing Day, Michigan was looking to fill the last few remaining spots in their 2017 recruiting class. Several names were mentioned as possibilities to join, but one that never came up was Westerville (OH.) South senior punter Brad Robbins. The Ohio specialist burst onto the scene from his impressive performances on the camp circuit, especially in front of kicking guru, Brandon Kornblue at his camp in Florida in late December. 

From there, his recruitment quickly took off.

“I walked up to (Kornblue's) camp and he had no idea who I was and by lunch time he was asking who the heck I was,” Robbins told The Michigan Insider. “At the end of this camp, he had me ranked second on his website and two days later, the special teams coach at Nevada gave me a call and a week later offered me a scholarship. I went out for a visit and loved the way they recruited me, so I committed to them.”

However, his recruitment would soon make another turn around Thanksgiving with the Wolfpack coaching staff being let go. That stirred up a little bit of uncertainty, but as Signing Day approached, so did another program in the Michigan Wolverines.

“They eventually met me a couple weeks before Signing Day and said they really liked me and liked what they saw,” said Robbins. “They were wanting to get me up there for a visit, but I already had a visit scheduled to Illinois because I had received a scholarship from them, so I would have to go past Signing Day to visit."

He continued to maintain contact with the Wolverine coaching staff and knew from their conversations together that an offer may not come, but on Signing Day, he received some exciting news.

“They told me straight up and were really honest with me the entire time that there might not be a scholarship opportunity for me, but they would for sure have me as a preferred walk-on,” said Robbins. “Apparently they had 33 guys on their board with only 30 scholarships available. Four guys on Signing Day dropped out, which left one scholarship left and Coach Harbaugh gave my dad a call and told him I had a full scholarship.”

Shortly after receiving that call, Robbins didn’t hesitate and quickly pulled the trigger for the Maize and Blue. After committing to Michigan over Illinois, Navy, Nevada and Rutgers on Signing Day, he made his visit to Ann Arbor the following weekend, which was a trip that didn’t disappoint and even exceeded his expectations going in. 

“Once I received a scholarship on Signing Day and verbally committed to them, I visited that weekend,” said Robbins. “I got the opportunity to meet all the coaches, see the facilities, the business school, engineering program and really got to experience it all. It was really a lot of fun and I like it up there.”

“My parents and I knew the school was already going to be great. We knew the football was going to be great. We went up there to meet the people and see what kind of people they are. My hosts were amazing as I had Garrett Moores, holder of the year and Zach Gentry. Both are really good guys. I met all the coaches, but the guy who really impressed me was the strength coach (Kevin Tolbert). That guy is amazing. He gave me a funny speech and said that it’s great that your parents are here, but as long as you are here, I am your daddy. That was so funny. He's a great guy.”

During that visit to Michigan, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Robbins, had the opportunity to meet and talk with his future head coach Jim Harbaugh, who really impressed him and his family.  

“He is a great guy and just awesome,” said Robbins. “He’s really energetic and just seems like a good guy to be around. He turned the program around in just two years, so obviously a good coach. My parents, brother, sister and I were asking questions to him and one of them was what he expects out of me. He said a couple things to compete in the classroom, be on time, work hard and just be a winner. That’s what he expects out of me, so I’m ready to achieve them.”

“Coach Harbaugh’s rule is the best players are going to play. It doesn’t matter if you are scholarship or not scholarship, whoever is the best player is going to play. That is something that I admire and is cool.”

Harbaugh also showed his outgoing personality during the visit to the Robbins’ family with a few of his moves. 

“There is a scene in Hitch where Will Smith was saying stay where you are comfortable, we are just dancing and just keep it inside here,” said Robbins. “Coach Harbaugh was talking about a father daughter dance he had later that evening and he started showing off his dance moves in front of me and my parents. I joked to him to keep it easy coach and you got to keep it under control and got to keep it where you are comfortable. He’s just so awesome.”

A few days later, Robbins made it official by signing his letter of intent to Michigan on February 6th. It was a rollercoaster of a ride, but looking back, he has no complaints on how everything turned out and now is happy to call Ann Arbor his new home for the next four years.

“It is unbelievable,”said Robbins. “For me, it feels great and a weight off my shoulders. The whole recruiting process was a little hectic especially for specialists. If you would have told me my sophomore year, I was going to play football at the University of Michigan and be in a top five recruiting class in the country, I would have said you are crazy. It worked out the way it did and I’m glad it happened. I can’t wait to get up there. I’m just glad it worked out the way it did and at the end of the day, I can call myself a Wolverine.”

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