Neiko Good to Go With Lions

Butler convinces Florida DB to stay under Penn State's roof after his primary recruiting contact left for another program. Robinson is slated to visit this weekend.

Sitting along a lonely Florida sideline the first four weeks of the 2012 season opened Nieko Robinson eyes to the game of football.

Robinson experienced a similar feeling sitting at Northview High (Century, Fla.) Monday morning beside his father, as new Penn State defensive coordinator John Butler sat on the other side of the table. Recently promoted from the defensive backs job after former Nittany Lion defensive manager Ted Roof left for Georgia Tech, Butler explained how nothing has changed with Penn State's program less than a month from signing day (Feb. 6). And after an hour and a half of dialogue, Robinson agreed.

“Mostly, we talked about my visit, what campus life was like, and what it would be like at Penn State,” Robinson said Tuesday evening. “We talked a little bit about defense and a little bit about him [Butler]. And then my dad talked to Coach for a while I went back to class.”

The Associated Press Class 1A All-State defensive back who dazzled after a four-game suspension due to a pre-season altercation added 95 tackles and seven interceptions to his ledger this season, much of which was spent communicating with Roof. But Robinson did have one final word with the coordinator that spent a year at University Park.

“I wanted Coach Roof to stay,” Robinson said. “That's who I talked to the majority of the time as well as Coach [Bill] O'Brien. But Coach Butler is a nice guy, a good guy. They're all nice and good guys.

“I like him [Butler] and I like Coach Roof, too,” Robinson added. “I can't wait to play for them. Coach Roof told me it was pretty much a family thing. I can understand that. He wanted to move closer to his family, he's from Georgia, and that's just the business of the game.”

Robinson will take his first steps on University Park soil this weekend, when he'll travel to University Park for a visit lasting from Friday afternoon until Sunday. It's will be a time the Nittany Lions hope to use to show him how he will be treated for the next four or five years.

“I'm going to meet with my academic people, and have dinner and hang out with the guys. I'm excited,” Robinson said, adding he's no longer listening or talking to other programs.

The FOX Sports NEXT two-star prospect played mostly safety over his four years at Northview, though he dabbled some at linebacker as well as cornerback. He expects to line up at safety once he gets to Happy Valley.

“Coach Butler was saying he would try me at cornerback and safety, and he thinks I will be more of a safety,” Robinson said. “He said he isn't sure what kind of defense they are going to play yet, that it's going to depend on how everybody plays and how they do at each position.”

At 6-foot, 170 pounds, Robinson has a skill set that features strong instincts and an ability to read plays. He also lay plenty of hard hits.

“At safety, you have to be the deepest man, and take some chances,” Robinson said. “Some people put too much into the backpedal and try to be pretty with it. But if you watch film and read the play, you know what's going to happen. You know what will happen a majority of the time, so I just read the play and make one, and I think that's what separates me.”

He sees himself playing safety in college. But wherever he lines up, he knows he must be ready from Day One.

“Coach Butler told me not to eat a bunch of donuts and get fat before I come up there,” Robinson said with a chuckle. “He told me to be ready and to expect to play right when I get there.”

If he does play right from the start, his state championship experience may give him a leg up. Northview's 42-21 victory over Trenton in the Florida Class 1A state title game was played at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. And while it's 70,000-seat capacity was hardly reached, the openness and largeness of it gave Robinson a feeling for what playing at Beaver Stadium will be like.

“Playing in the Citrus Bowl like we did, it's a pretty big stadium,” Robinson said. “I never played in a stadium like that, and when we walked out, it gave me a little bit of an idea what a 100,000 -eat stadium might be like. Any freshman would be in awe of that, but I hope that helps me not be.”

In the end, whether it will help or not will be seen next September. But Robinson's love of the game is already visible.

“I feel like me being out for the start of the season, I already love the game more than anything,” Robinson said. “But when I got suspended from it, I had to sit and watch. I couldn't help. It just gave me that much more love for the game. When I came back, I appreciated it a lot more.”

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