Listed as a four-star prospect out of San Antonio, but just the 14th best receiver out of Texas, Corey Robinson had much to prove/live up to as the son of legendary basketball player David Robinson.
His 67-catch, 1,414-yard, 20-touchdown senior season for San Antonio Christian left questions as to his level of competition as well as his ability to corral his 6-foot-4 ½ size as he continued to grow into his body.
When he verbally committed to the Irish in late-March of 2012, his other top offers were from North Carolina, Iowa, Wake Forest, Kansas and, of course, the Naval Academy, where his father blossomed into a future NBA star on the hardwood.
Yet Robinson made an impact as an early-entry freshman, catching three passes for 54 yards and drawing a pair of pass interference penalties in Notre Dame’s 17-13 home victory over Michigan State in the fourth game of his rookie season. Robinson leveled off after that, catching just five passes for 91 yards over the final nine games.
A broken hand during the ’14 pre-season slowed Robinson’s start, but he still played in every game before grabbing eight passes for 91 yards and a score against Syracuse in Game Four. Robinson peaked in Game Seven, snagging eight passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns in the narrow loss at Florida State. Yet he would manage just 13 receptions and one touchdown over the final six games, including his only catch-less game of the campaign versus LSU in the Music City Bowl.
Robinson has the size and hands to challenge for the team lead in receptions after finishing second in catches with 40 and receiving touchdowns with five. Will Fuller was Everett Golson’s favorite target, which could change with Malik Zaire at the controls. More likely, Robinson ups his reception total while serving as a more consistent complement to Fuller.
Exiting the spring, Robinson was sharing time at the W receiver position with senior Chris Brown. Brown could finally emerge as a consistent presence at receiver for the Irish, but it’s more likely that it’s Robinson that remains the No. 2 target on the receiving corps.
Statistically through two seasons, two comparisons come to mind – one that’s close and one that’s a virtual duplicate. The one that’s close…In 2001-02, Rhema McKnight caught nine passes for 91 yards as a freshman, and then upped his receptions to 47, his yardage to 600 and his touchdowns to three. But McKnight averaged just 12.3 yards per reception.
In 2001, freshman Omar Jenkins caught seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown; in 2013, freshman Corey Robinson caught nine passes for 157 yards and a touchdown. In 2002, the sophomore Jenkins made 37 receptions for 633 yards and three scores; in 2014, the sophomore Robinson made 40 receptions for 539 yards and five scores.
In terms of football development, the level of prep competition and his college offer list, Robinson probably should have been rated a three-star prospect. And yet even as a four-star, his 49 receptions for 696 yards, 14.2-yard average and six touchdowns through two seasons with the Irish puts him on a pace for well over 100 catches his final two years with the Irish.
Two games stand out from Robinson’s sophomore season in ’14, and one in particular because of the magnitude of the opponent/performance. His eight-catch, 91-yard, one-touchdown performance against Syracuse in the fourth game of the season represented a personal high at the time. But most of those completions were quick-outs against soft coverage. Robinson’s eight catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State represented a coming out party on a national stage.
“It’s a mental shift from surviving as a freshman to thriving. Now you’re saying, ‘How can I become the best receiver possible? How do I go from 40 catches to 60, 70, 80 catches? How can I make that next step to being more efficient?’ Everything, even in the weight room, is more intentional and focused.”
-- Corey Robinson