WR Robinson more than staying afloat

Bob Wieneke

When Corey Robinson left San Antonio Christian School to begin his football career at Notre Dame, his high school coach, Bryan Marmion, was confident about a number of things.

Robinson possessed a thirst to learn that would serve him well in college. His size, — 6-foot-5, 190 pounds — provided a bump in grabbing playing time at wide receiver in, at the very least, red-zone situations. Enrolling in January too would help in that Robinson would have a better knowledge base, and a few extra months of advanced weight training.

Still, there was the fact that San Antonio Christian is not a Texas-sized Texas high school, with the entire K-12 enrollment at roughly 1,200 students. And that caused Marmion to wonder, if just a little bit.

“The thing that’s sometimes hard when you have a big fish in a little pond,” Marmion said, “is to try to project — how’s that big fish going to do in a big pond?”

The answer? Swimmingly.

There were freshmen who jumped out during fall camp. Steve Elmer because of his size. Greg Bryant because of his build and potential. Jaylon Smith because of his ability.

But during the media viewing portions of camp, the conversations usually came back to one guy — Robinson.

“He consistently catches the football,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “It doesn’t matter who he goes up against. If the ball’s put in the right position, he’s going to come down with it.”

Because of who Robinson’s father is — basketball Hall-of-Famer David Robinson — the natural assumption would be that Corey’s athletic path would lead him to coming down with rebounds, not passes.

The younger Robinson, who has not been made available for interviews since arriving at ND in January, did not play football in middle school, and, according to Marmion, went out as a freshman in high school after his older brother, David, convinced him to. There was a hitch: Corey’s older brother didn’t play the entire year.

“So Corey went ahead and stayed out and I didn’t know whether we’d get him back his sophomore year or not,” Marmion said. “But he came on back out, and then it all started to kind of click for him at that point. I think he went out just to be with his brother.”

Still, there was the logical assumption that basketball would eventually trump football. But as Marmion got to know Robinson’s parents, he saw more and more that David and Valerie Robinson were allowing their children to determine their sports choices.

“You started to see pretty quickly that they were going to let the kids pick their own course,” Marmion said. “So I think he enjoyed basketball, but he kind of found his course a little bit with football. There’s no comparisons there (with his father). And Mom’s a diehard Chicago Bears fan. Dad is kind of take it or leave it with football. He’s become much more of a fan since Corey’s been playing than he was going into it, but Mom’s pretty hard-core.”

As well as Corey has performed at ND, it’s still hard not to notice his basketball legend dad when he’s around.

The “Admiral” posed for pictures on the field before the Temple game. He posed with fans after the game. When he walked through the interview room on his way to the locker room, there was no question who the 7-foot-1 man was that ducked as he approached a door.

“I think they’ve really enjoyed it. And I think he’s enjoying being a fan of his kid. For everything else that he is, he’s a dad. He’s just as excited about the opportunity for his son as anybody else would be for their kid to go to Notre Dame,” Marmion said.

Marmion believes that part of the allure of Notre Dame to Corey Robinson was that he would be able to come to the school as a student and football player, and not just as the son of a famous father. With so much attention on the team itself, Robinson wouldn’t be the story each week.

“And I think that quite honestly was something that was awful attractive about Notre Dame,” Marmion said. “It wasn’t a feather in Notre Dame’s cap to get David Robinson’s son. He wasn’t going to be the talking point for future recruiting classes. I think they liked that a little bit and they certainly were very impressed with the coaching staff early on, so it’s been a great fit for him academically. I know he’s enjoyed being in the dorms. So everything so far has been very positive.”

It’s been a continuous growth spurt, figuratively and literally, since Robinson showed up as a sub-6 footer several years ago in San Antonio.

“Once he figured it out,” Marmion said, “he turned out to be pretty good.”

Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson (88) catches a pass during a drill at practice Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, at LaBar Practice Complex. SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ