If Corey Robinson turns into a star wide receiver, Notre Dame might want to thank a school policy at San Antonio Christian High School.
When Robinson came to San Antonio Christian, his older brother, David Jr., convinced him to join the football team, of which he was already a member. Then David Jr. quit the football team. But if an athlete quits a sport in-season at San Antonio Christian, he or she may not play other sports for the school for a full year.
So if Robinson had quit the football team, he wouldn't have been able to play basketball his freshman year. Here is where it's worth a reminder that Robinson's father is David Robinson, widely regarded as one of the best centers in NBA history.
"Corey didn't want to miss basketball season, so he says 'well, I'm kind of stuck, I gotta play now,'" coach Bryan Marmion said in a phone interview with CSNChicago.com on Wednesday.
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Fast-forward four years, and Robinson looks like he could make an impact for a storied college football powerhouse.
During Saturday's practice, Robinson beat cornerback Bennett Jackson — who's on the Bednarik Award watch list and is Notre Dame's best defensive back — on two straight routes to the outside. The 6-foot-4 Robinson is a matchup nightmare, coupling his size with elite athletic ability and excellent hands.
"He consistently catches the football, it doesn't matter who he goes up against," coach Brian Kelly said. "If the ball's put in the right position, he comes down with it."
Robinson still has to get physically stronger to run inside routes and beat pressing cornerbacks better, but Kelly views him as a guy who could significantly help Notre Dame's passing game. For someone without any football experience before his freshman year of high school, success has come quick for Robinson.
Marmion pointed to an aggressive desire to learn as a big reason why.
"He was just a sponge," Marmion said. "There wasn't anything we did that he wasn't (asking questions about) — 'Hey, why are we doing it that way, why not this way, or why didn't you say that, or how do I do this.'"
Robinson emerged on the national recruiting scene in January 2012 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl combine. He was unheralded before then and didn't play at a big school — San Antonio Christian has only had varsity football for 10 years and has an enrollment of about 400 students — but garnered interest from plenty of BCS programs after a strong showing at the combine.
Marmion said he had to push Robinson's father to show up at the combine to draw attention to his relatively unknown son and so coaches would ask themselves: "What's David Robinson doing here?"
"But if Corey had gone out and dropped three passes, it probably would've all been over," Marmion said. "It would've been hey, that's neat, David's got a son playing at a little Christian school. He'd probably be at the Naval Academy right now."
Marmion still keeps in contact with Robinson, observing from afar as the most high-profile player he's coached works his way up the depth chart in South Bend. Marmion had the same observation as Kelly, that Robinson needs to get stronger.
But as an 18-year-old with only four years of football experience, Marmion's impressed by Robinson's meteoric rise.
"He's not a complete player yet," Marmion said, "but he's definitely proved he belongs and should be at that level already."