That Corey Robinson led Notre Dame in receiving against Michigan State wasn't surprising, at least from a narrow viewpoint. Taking a step back, though, the freshman wideout found hismelf in awe of his surroundings after Notre Dame's 17-13 win on Saturday.
"I didn't even think I was going to play college football my junior year of high school, and now to play out here in front of 81,000 screaming fans -- it's unreal," Robinson said.
Robinson caught three passes for 54 yards and drew two pass interference penalties (albeit, controversial ones) as Notre Dame's offense consistently attacked the outside of Michigan State's defense through the air. With the Spartans loading the box and taking away the run, coach Brian Kelly figured the best offensive plan was to throw deep fade routes against man-to-man coverage.
For that plan, the athletic, 6-foot-4 Robinson was the perfect fit.
"It's not conceptually a lot of different route adjustments," Kelly said Sunday. "You're going to get press man, go up and get the football. In a large degree, that allows a guy like Corey to get some more playing time."
Robinson only had one reception in his collegiate career prior to Saturday, but wasn't blindsided by how much Tommy Rees looked his way against Michigan State.
"We knew it was going to be a really physical game, they played cover zero pretty much the whole game," Robinson said. "We knew it was going to be a one-on-one matchup for the most part. As receivers, especially being a big, physical receiver, I have to make sure I win the one-on-one matchups on the verticals on any route that they give me."
For now, Robinson's strength will be on those outside matchups where he can use his size, athleticism and physicality to beat defenses running man-to-man coverage. But Kelly said he's seem improvement in Robinson's ability to run inside routes and beat zone coverage in practice over the last few weeks, which is the next step for him.
Robinson's already begun to make a name for himself as more than the son of Hall of Fame San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson, with his sky-high potential flashing against Michigan State.
Of course, playing a different sport than his father has helped in that regard.
"It's a lot easier playing football," Robinson said, "if I was playing basketball, it'd be 100 times worse."