There is an expectation that comes with the family name. It elevates perceptions and heightens the anticipation of athletic proclivity.
Robinson. David Robinson’s kid. The Admiral’s son.
It takes a grounded individual to deal with the hype, put the expectations in perspective and carve one’s own path.
Junior wide receiver Corey Robinson might have the least “entitled” attitude on the Notre Dame football team. He is a direct reflection of David and Valerie Robinson. Nothing is owed to him except what he’s earned.
A free pass? Not the least bit interested.
“I think I’ve come a long way, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near where I need to be for this team,” said the 6-foot-4 1/2, 215-pounder out of San Antonio, where his father carved a Hall-of-Fame career as a two-time NBA champion, league MVP and 10-time all-star.
“The No. 1 thing I’m working on is consistency. Making the big plays every week, or putting myself in a position that if Malik (Zaire) needs an out or we need a play, I can make that play. Or making a big block for Tarean (Folston) or any of our running backs. I did that in bits and pieces last year, but not on a consistent basis.
“To become the player I need to be, I’ve got to be consistent and be a leader every down. Not just one play on third down. I need to be there every single down and be someone we can count on.”
The outside perception of Robinson following a 40-catch, 539-yard, five-touchdown sophomore season is at least partially formed by the fact that Corey is the son of David, and everything David touched athletically turned to gold.
The fact is Corey Robinson was an appropriately-assigned three-star football prospect out of San Antonio Christian High School who was still growing into his body and had much to learn/improve upon to be considered a major college football prospect.
His progress at Notre Dame was rapid. He caught nine passes for a 17.4-yard average with a touchdown as a freshman while playing an integral role in Notre Dame’s narrow victory over Michigan State, which would be the Spartans’ only setback of the season.
Heading into his junior season, Robinson is far from a finished product, and yet his name popped up as a first-round NFL selection in one early mock draft.
College football guru Phil Steele – whose projections consistently are the best and most accurate – had Robinson as the No. 11 overall draft eligible receiver prospect in the country, eight spots ahead of teammate Will Fuller, who had 79 catches for more than 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns in ’14.
Robinson has yet to prove to be that kind of player. Although he’s 1A on the boundary-side receiver position (W) depth chart, it’s senior Chris Brown whose name sits atop the list.
Precision in Robinson’s route running is still a work in progress. Developing additional strength to take full advantage of his large frame has been achieved, but still needs improvement. Rounding out the facets of his game – like becoming a receiver who can be effective on crossing routes – is the next phase.
He’s a big, quality athlete, but he’s not a gazelle. Strength with athleticism in that frame is a challenge.
“Consistency, be more physical, be more of a leader for the young guys,” said Robinson, ticking off entries on his “to-do” list. “I’m in my third year and an early enrollee, so I’m one of the veterans of the team.
“This off-season I gained weight, but most importantly, gaining strength was my No. 1 thing. I was successful with that. I’m not where I want to be, but I took a big stride in that area. I gained like 10 pounds. All my (weight room) maxes went up about 30 or 40 pounds, so I’m happy where I’m going. It’s an upward projection.
“Before, I was moving people around a little bit, but now I really am, especially blocking. I’m more physical and can add that to my game. I’m a 6-5 receiver, so that’s my whole game. Being big and physical helps me become open.”
Robinson is about more than just being an athlete. Way more. His time in South Africa this summer was an eye-opening, educational experience.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to study abroad because you’re exposed to so many different types of people and different types of cultures,” Robinson said. “It’s really cool when you see that the way I’m living isn’t the only way to live. My opinions aren’t right all the time, and when you broaden your horizons like that, you’re more open to different philosophies and different perspective on things, especially the things you take for granted here.
“It also made me think that as a student-athlete, my platform is immense and I could really help individuals and inspire kids to pursue their dreams to get a college education. It puts everything in perspective for you.
“It’s not like, ‘I want to go score touchdowns.’ I’m scoring touchdowns because it’s fun, but also because I can change these middle-schoolers’ lives. After going to South Africa and going to the townships, I see how blessed I really am.”
Now it’s back to the pre-season camp grind, which Robinson admits isn’t one of his most enjoyable experiences, although the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is real…and realistic.
“We have all the talent necessary to win a national championship,” Robinson said. “We all believe that we can. That’s the goal and that’s the goal for every team. But this year, it’s extra helpful for us. We have the necessary pieces to do that.”
Robinson has prepared himself to be one of those integral pieces. In his own right.