Robinson greeting new challenges head on
When media viewed snippets of last year's summer camp, wide receiver Corey Robinson's catching ability became a buzz word of it's own heading into the 2013 season. Robinson snagged balls high and low going against veteran defenders like Bennett Jackson and Keivarae Russell, earning him the title as the freshman who could undoubtedly compete for early playing time. Irish head coach Brian Kelly is not one to speak endless words of acclamation about his youngsters, so you know Robinson is on the fast track to success in 2014 after hearing Kelly (unprompted) sing the sophomore's praises after Saturday's practice. "I guess if I could talk about one guy out of all the receivers, the guy that I'm pleased with the most is Corey Robinson," Kelly said. "He does exactly what I ask him to do all the time, and he does it right. He may screw it up the first time, but you coach him, and he does it right the second time. I love that kid." Though Robinson received his fair share of passes last year, T.J. Jones and DaVaris Daniels were the featured wide outs on offense in 2013. Now, with Jones off to the NFL and Daniels absent this spring and summer, Robinson has been rendered leadership responsibility. "That (absence of Jones and Daniels) has been one of the biggest adjustments, I think," Robinson said. "Now, the mantel of leadership has been passed, and it has not been passed gently. We've been trying to figure out what to do this spring, especially with DaVaris gone. Someone has to step up, someone has to know what to do. Breezy (Chris Brown) and C.J. (Prosise) are doing a good job. We're so young, we're tying to figure it out. "I try not to be caught up in what I need to do individually because I know that Will (Fuller) is also playing "W," and he has just as many questions as I do, so I always try to help him out," Robinson said. "So, I do understand that I am kind of in a position of leadership in the wide receiver corps just because I did make some catches last year and I have some game playing experience. So, I have to bring that back so when guys ask me what they should be doing, that makes me go to the film room and figure it out, so I know the answer to what they're asking. It's (leadership) here. Whether I want it or not." Coupled with navigating a new leadership role has been syncing up with a new quarterback. One with more experience than Robinson and a different playing style than what the sophomore grew accustomed to last year. "Everett (Golson) throws a cannon," Robinson said. "Everett's throw is so much faster. I remember the first couple of practices, I was running routes, and the ball was being thrown out of my breaks, and I was looking for it, and then I was like ‘what just happened.' I missed a couple of balls that way. And, Coach started yelling at me, ‘what happened, why can't you catch the ball?' So, it's a lot faster. If you're not ready, you're going to get smacked in the face." "Everett's been telling me what he wants, and I've been trying to go out there and do it," Robinson said. "He got a lot of experience two seasons ago. Malik (Zaire) is still like me, still trying to figure it out. Golson understands the model better. Mailk is very talented, but at the same time he's trying to figure it out. Him and me are often on the same page because we're both on the wrong page. He'll say, ‘Oh I thought it was supposed to be this, and I'm like, well, that's what I thought, too,' but we'll both be wrong. With Everett, there's not as much room for mistakes." Despite taking time out of his already jam-packed schedule - one that includes being on student government - to help teach the younger receivers, Robinson is dialing in on improving a few areas of his own game. "I'm focusing on making all the routes look very similar, so the defensive backs don't know what I am going to be doing," Robinson said. "I was talking to KeiVarae and Cole Luke about how do (they) know what routes I'm going to run. You know, what are my tells, so I can stop those tells and make things look similar. I don't notice it. They say every time I run a post, this happens. It's like, 'Oh, now that you mention it… ' So, I've been to stop that." Rounding out the fresh challenges for Robinson in 2014 is the new look of the defense he faces in practice. "It's lot more physical this year," Robinson said. "You have to win it on the line or else your routes don't even matter. This spring has been a lot more physical. I can definitely feel it in my body, all the line battles with KeiVarae and Cole. That's the main thing I've noticed with the new defense, they're trying to challenge you every play. You never know if it's going to be press or one-on-one man. There's no room to relax or else you're going to be exposed." Despite the laundry list of changes Robinson is facing this year, he'll never abandon the basics of his game, the root of what turned many heads last spring and August. "One of the things I'm trying to realize is that I can't play off the line," Robinson said. "I have to understand my strengths and hold on to that and run with it. For instance, I'm not super fast like Will Fuller so I can't run off the line like he can. I have my size and long arms. I'm understanding my strengths and trying to perfect those."
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