WR Corey Robinson opts to end Notre Dame football career

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Corey Robinson can be described using a couple of different words.

Class president.

World traveler.

Now, former Notre Dame football player.

A 6-foot-5, 215-pound wide receiver, Robinson announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he will not return to the team for his senior season, after suffering multiple concussions in his three-plus seasons at Notre Dame. Robinson would have been the Irish’s active leader in receptions (65), receiving yards (896) and TD receptions (7) heading into the fall.

"After much contemplation and prayer, I have decided not to continue playing football due to multiple concussions," Robinson said in a statement. "I couldn't have come to this difficult personal decision without the incredible support from so many within the Notre Dame football program.

"I am extremely grateful to Coach Kelly and his staff for the life-changing opportunity to play football at the greatest university in the world. I will continue to help our team as a student assistant and look forward to a great senior year."

Robinson played in 38 games, starting five of them, in his three seasons in South Bend. The San Antonio native and son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson struggled to find his footing in 2015, recording just 16 catches for 200 receiving yards and one touchdown in 12 game.

"This was an extremely tough decision for Corey," Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. He's such a committed kid to everything he does — whether it be academics, football, community service or campus leadership initiatives — that he wanted to finish his four-year career on the field. He was so excited to lead a group of young receivers this fall.

"While that won't happen in the manner Corey initially intended, he will remain involved with the program on a day-to-day basis as a student assistant. He sets a remarkable example for all of our players — not only how to represent yourself on and off the field but also how working hard through adversity can lead to tremendous success."

Without Robinson — not to mention departed wideouts Will Fuller, Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle — Notre Dame will lean on senior Torii Hunter Jr. and a rash of young talent to carry the load. The list of potential contributors includes junior Corey Holmes, sophomores Equanimeous St. Brown, C.J. Sanders and Miles Boykin and promising freshmen Kevin Stepherson, Javon Mckinley and Chase Claypool.

“The main thing is just to get the young guys comfortable,” Robinson said at a charity bowling event on Sunday, previewing the remaining receiver corps. “I’ve seen them make plays that are unbelievable every day in practice. They just have to show you guys and the fans.

“Once they get comfortable out there and understand what they’re doing, they’re going to go out there and make plays like the playmakers they are.”

Of course, while Robinson won’t return to the football team, he remains a visible figure on campus at Notre Dame. The senior became the first active Irish football player to be elected class president last spring, with his one-year term beginning on April 1st. A scholar and world traveler, Robinson also returned from a study abroad program in Israel last week, after previously taking trips to Brazil, South Africa, England, France, Canada and Japan.

Robinson’s interests extend far beyond the end zone, beyond the borders of this campus, this country, this continent.

“I can tell you it was life-changing,” Robinson said of his Israel trip. “When you go over there and you see the conflict play out in front of you, it’s just so complicated. It’s so nuanced.

“It’s something that you would never understand if you just read articles and looked at it from this side. Talking to Palestinians, talking to Israelis and hearing both sides, it was very impactful.”

Dropped into the middle of the ongoing, bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East, Robinson spent the early part of his summer vacation very differently than most of his classmates. He submerged himself in a different culture, and his perspective changed as a result.

“When you go to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv (where Israel’s Declaration of Independence was signed in 1948) and you see the Israeli side and their struggle and triumph, that was something that really stuck with me,” Robinson said. “You see the hope of a people after a thousand years being realized. But then, at the same time, you go to some of the more Palestinian areas and you see the poverty. You see some really bad situations with the education, how the disparities between an Israeli education and a Palestinian education are just so, so different.

“We were actually standing in the spot where an Israeli soldier got stabbed by two Palestinians, so that was all very real. There was a lot of conflicting emotions.”

The beauty of Notre Dame, for Robinson, is that the university gives him an outlet for so many different ambitions. Even without football, he’ll continue to learn and grow.

“I think Notre Dame does a great job of allowing us to understand ourselves and discover ourselves,” he said. “I can still be a straight-A student, I can still be a contributing member in the classroom, I can still be a contributor on the team and still learn about myself and discover myself through traveling and courses abroad.”

Robinson will continue to make an impact, just not inside Notre Dame Stadium on Saturdays in the fall.

Thank you for all the support ND Nation! I love this university and I'm looking forward to helping my team in a new role this fall

— Corey Robinson (@CoreyRobinson13) June 16, 2016

mvorel@ndinsider.com

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Notre Dame’s Corey Robinson during Notre Dame spring football practice on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, inside the Loftus Sports Center at Notre Dame in South Bend. (Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN)