Notre Dame WR Corey Robinson demanding more consistency

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND  Bits and pieces are no longer enough.

On Thursday morning, sitting before a deluge of digital recorders and video cameras inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, Corey Robinson acknowledged that fact, citing the need for consistent production as a lingering question mark hovering over his junior season.

“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 Robinson, Notre Dame's mammoth 6-foot-5, 215-pound receiver. "The No. 1 thing I’ve been working on is consistency and making the big plays every time. I’m trying to put myself in the best position where, if Malik (Zaire) needs an out or we need a big play, I can make that play.

"I’ve done that in bits and pieces last year, but not on a consistent basis."

The proof is in the production, or lack thereof. Despite finishing second on the team with five touchdowns in 2014, Robinson corralled more than four passes in a game just twice and scored in just four of the Irish's 13 games. Following his breakout eight-catch, two-touchdown display in the agonizing loss at Florida State, Robinson failed to catch more than three passes and scored one measly touchdown in his team's final six games.

He dazzled, and then he baffled. And that's something he plans to improve.

"My best game last year was Florida State. I need to have those kind of games every week," Robinson said. "That’s my No. 1 thing, because that’s the area I can help the team the most — catching the balls they need me to catch and making the blocks they need me to make on a consistent basis.”

Sounds easy, doesn't it? In reality, numerous Irish pass-catchers — including Robinson, senior Chris Brown, graduate student Amir Carlisle, junior Torii Hunter Jr. and sophomore Corey Holmes, not to mention the tight ends — are lining up behind established junior Will Fuller in search of meaningful targets.

But if Robinson holds an advantage anywhere (besides his sheer size), it lies with his significant history with the team's first-year starting quarterback, Zaire.

“I’ve been throwing with Malik since our first spring together, since we were early enrollees," Robinson said with a chuckle. "I’ve been throwing and catching with Malik for two and a half years now, so I’d say our chemistry is pretty good.”

Robinson's relative inconsistency bled into the spring, as he participated only sporadically while recovering from a concussion. Regardless of the past, however, Robinson will have an opportunity to shake off the rust when Notre Dame opens training camp at Culver Military Academy on Friday.

“In the spring I was more like a support piece, helping the young guys understand the offense better," Robinson said. "But I didn’t really get the physical reps that I needed. Going into the summer and this camp, it’ll be a great opportunity for me to get back on the field and play against Kei (KeiVarae Russell), play against Cole (Luke) and all the really good corners we have, and get back into the physical aspect of the game.

It will be up to Robinson to prove, alongside his fellow receivers, that the hype surrounding their position is warranted.

"At the wide receiver position, we've got a number of playmakers — guys that can make plays down the field, guys that can make plays in the red zone," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. "It is our job to make sure that we get those guys opportunities to make plays for us."

As for Robinson, his goal moving forward is to make every play available to him.

Not just bits and pieces.

“It all starts behind the scenes," Robinson said. "Anybody can go out there and have a good game any Saturday, but we want to play to the best of our ability every Saturday.

"That consistency is established in training camp. It’s established in the spring and summer. We’ve been working towards it this whole year, the last seven months.”

mvorel@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6428 | Twitter: @mikevorel

Notre Dame wide receiver. Corey Robinson runs in what would have been a winning touchdown reception in the final seconds of the 31-27 loss to Florida State on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL. (SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)