Right around this time last year Auston Robertson made a change for the better.
After a few years of playing wide receiver, safety, tight end and linebacker, Robertson embraced the notion that defensive end would take him to college. He started practicing on the defensive line and impressed at college camps all summer, which led to scholarship offers.
Robertson arrived at The Opening Regional outside Chicago on Sunday as one of the most highly coveted prospects in attendance as a result. And he still has room to grow.
“I’ve learned a lot about how important it is to use my hands and how important your get-off is and your stance,” Robertson said. “You can’t ever stop working and you can’t ever stop learning either. I’m still learning.”
Dozens of programs have offered the four-star prospect from Ft. Wayne, Ind., but only a trio remain in contention. Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State are running out front with a verbal commitment expected on June 7.
Michigan State hosted Robertson last month and the Irish will do so this coming weekend. Recruiting coordinator Mike Elston visited school last week.
“I talk to coach Elston a lot on the phone,” Robertson said. “I talk to him on Twitter a lot. I've talked to coach Gilmore. He was super cool. I’m supposed to be going down there next weekend to show my mom the atmosphere I could be playing at. She’s never been to any of these visits or any of these camps or anything so she really doesn’t know what’s going on. I want to show her.”
Elston has been recruiting Robertson in earnest since offering a scholarship during camp last summer as defensive line coach. Gilmore has just taken over that same position this offseason as Elston shifted to linebackers.
Robertson and Gilmore are continuing to get to know each other.
“We’ve got a good relationship right now,” Robertson said. “We could talk a little more but I’m not mad because he's still settling in to Notre Dame. But since I’ve been talking to him he seems pretty cool. We started building the relationship process and I got to go into some of the defensive meetings. He treats all his players like they’re his own.”
Robertson remains unsure if Michigan State or Ohio State will receive return visits between now and his planned June 7 announcement date. Michigan State hosted last month.
“I’ve got a relationship basically with all the coaches and they treat me like family every time I go down there,” Robertson said. “I was supposed to go down there last weekend but I had a 7-on-7 tournament. I went the week before that to watch a spring practice. It felt like a home. I’ve talked to a lot of the recruits that are committed already. So if I were to go there I’ve got a relationship already. I wouldn’t be going there by myself.”
Robertson plans to weigh those relationships along with some other key factors over the next month. He and his family will weigh the pros and cons before releasing the commitment at RAS Camp outside Fort Wayne next month.
“Breaking it down is like me looking at my relationship with the coaches and life after college and how much that diploma means,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”