‘I didn’t expect this’: WR Stephon Robinson Jr. emerges as key KU playmaker
Kansas football coach Les Miles, happily reciting some statistics from his team’s just completed victory over Texas Tech on Saturday night, had to stop himself after reading the stat line for Stephon Robinson Jr.
“Oh, my goodness,” the giddy coach remarked, after saying the numbers out loud.
Two touchdowns, 186 receiving yards, 294 all-purpose yards.
“We knew he had that, OK,” Miles added of Robinson, KU’s emerging playmaker.
A 5-foot-10 junior receiver from Los Angeles, Robinson played and made contributions earlier in the season, as KU’s offense experienced some hazardous ups and downs. Over the course of the past three games, though, his impact reached a new stratosphere.
His flight path first became visible against Oklahoma, when Robinson caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. After a bye week and a switch at offensive coordinator, with Brent Dearmon taking over, Robinson played a large part in KU’s near upset at Texas, with seven receptions, 67 yards and another two touchdowns. Then came his latest career outing, as Robinson, on just six catches, provided 186 yards and, yet again, a pair of TDs.
“I didn’t expect this,” Robinson said this week, when reminded of his production of late.
No receiver in all of FBS has caught more touchdowns in his past three games than Robinson’s six. And with his receptions of 65, 53 and 48 yards against Texas Tech, Robinson now owns three of the nine longest plays on the season for KU.
According to Robinson, he just heads into each week planning to do his job well and “whatever happens happens.”
Actually, that approach is one KU senior quarterback Carter Stanley cited while explaining why Robinson has become one of his “favorite receivers of all time.”
“He doesn’t say a word. He just grinds his tail off every day at practice,” Stanley said, “and his work is coming to show.”
Stanley said between Robinson’s work ethic, football IQ and talent, he has it all.
“He’s a really hard-working kid,” the QB said of Robinson, who now has 30 catches and 522 yards on the season, “and he deserves everything he’s getting right now.”
Earlier this week, Robinson’s name was added to the honor roll for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the player deemed to be the most versatile in college football. Robinson, who became KU’s primary kick returner two weeks ago, had a career-long 30-yard return versus Tech and finished with 103 return yards on four attempts.
A three-star junior college recruit in the Class of 2018, Robinson, who played one year at El Camino Community College, has become a player that Stanley said KU needs to get the ball to as much as possible.
Following his massive output this past weekend, Robinson said it felt “fantastic” helping KU win for the community, alumni and university. On a personal level, though, it meant even more. Robinson said his grandmother, Katherine, died earlier this year and he dedicated that game to his “Nana.”
Every time Robinson scores, he goes to the sideline and points to the sky for her. Robinson said he often remembers spending Saturday mornings with his “Nana” and watching cartoons while she cooked. He keeps a portrait of her in his Bible, and as his college football career is beginning to take off, Robinson said part of what drives him is his desire to make her and his family proud.
Miles is happy to have the receiver as a part of his football family at KU.
“He’s a lights-out personality, a great person. He has great ball skills. He’s very fast,” Miles said. “I’ve already got enough sons, but I’d take him in a heartbeat.”
Although Robinson and Andrew Parchment (seven catches, 109 yards, TD) led the way offensively in KU’s first Big 12 victory of the season, Robinson argued some of his receiver brethren, Kwamie Lassiter II and Daylon Charlot, are just as likely to deliver those types of games.
Robinson said Dearmon puts the receivers in position to make big plays with the way KU’s offense is spreading the ball around these days.
“In our offense you can’t focus on just one person,” Robinson said of not only KU’s receivers, but also running back Pooka Williams and Stanley. “If you key in on one person it’s going to open up something else. So going forward, teams are going to have to guard all of us and just respect all of us as playmakers.”