Q&A with Malik Robinson
A few weeks ago, you revealed that you had been having commitment discussions with your dad. What were those conversations like heading into your return on Saturday?
“When I went down there [on Jan.] 31, I went down there with my friend. Then, I loved it. It was everything I wanted in a college. The coaches and I had great talks when I had went.
“So, I kept telling [my dad] that I wanted him to see it, because my decision wasn’t just going to be my decision – it was going to be a group decision with me and my family. So, that’s when we decided to go down there. He was telling me that if I liked it that much and if he likes it, then why don’t I commit next time I go? So, I was like, ‘Alright.’
“But, on the way down there, that wasn’t my plan. I decided to wait until my first game. So, my plan wasn’t to do it [on Saturday].”
Why did your plan change again?
“I think it was when Coach [Larry] Fedora was talking to my dad and just giving off that energy to me and my dad. He had told my dad that the day that I tell him that I wanted to be a Tar Heel, my education at a great school would be paid for. He said the burden of paying for my education would be off my dad’s chest. He said that regardless of if I got hurt, my school would still be paid for.”
Your first UNC visit was a junior day. You returned Saturday for another junior day. What was different about this trip?
“I had more one-on-one time with Coach ‘JP’ [John Papuchis], my linebackers coach; had more one-on-one time with Coach [Charlton] Warren; and more one-on-one time with Coach [Gene] Chizik.”
What did you do with those guys?
“I sat in Coach Fedora’s office for a good 15-20 minutes. Then, I left out of there and I sat in Coach Warren’s office and I got to talk to him and Coach JP at the same time. They explained to me the whole game plan: where they’re looking at me playing as, when would I get onto the field, and telling me what they like about me, my strengths, and my weaknesses. And then I went back into Coach Fedora’s office and committed.”
How did the commitment go down?
“The first time we went into Coach Fedora’s office, he was telling me, ‘We’re glad that you’re here. We really want you here.’ And he told my dad, ‘Thanks for coming down here.’ My dad told him, ‘This was [Malik’s] decision to come down here.’ And then [my dad] said, ‘This is where he wants to be.’ And then Coach Fedora said, ‘Well, what are you waiting on?’ I told him, ‘I don’t really know.’ And then he gave me more information.
“I left out of there and Coach Warren kept asking me, “What am I waiting on?’ He started giving me all the details about North Carolina. He asked me, ‘What’s the negative about it?’ And, there was no negative. And then he kept feeding me some more positive information and it felt real instead of scripted like other colleges. It felt real genuine. And the energy they had in there was immeasurable. So, I said, ‘Let’s do it. I want to commit.’ So he said, ‘I’ll get you into Coach Fedora’s office.’
“[Warren and Papuchis] came in with me and my dad. I said, ‘Coach Fedora, my name is Malik Robinson and I am a Tar Heel.’ And the room got pumped it.”
You mentioned the coach’s game plan. What is that?
“They run a 4-3 and they see me as the Will or the Sam [linebacker], but mainly as the Will. And the Will is the ‘Jack’ linebacker. The ‘Jack’ linebacker, he’s pulled out of the box and he plays in space because he has good ball skills and he can move and can cover tight ends one-on-one. And he can also fill gaps and fill holes when he needs to.
“And they feel like I can come in and contribute to the team right away if I handle my business.”
How firm is this commitment? Will you still visit other schools?
“No, I don’t think so. I’m not planning on it.”
When will you be back in Chapel Hill?
“April 16 for the spring game.”
UNC has done a really good job recruiting Georgia. Are you familiar with any fellow Georgia natives?
“I talked to Tyler Smith after I left the 31st [of January]. Him and I have been talking. And then I talked to Jonah [Melton on Saturday]. But right after I committed, they all welcomed me to the Hill and the family. We all have a group chat and we’ve been talking. I know all of [the commitments] now.”