By LARRY VAUGHT
Most years Davonte Robinson would have been the marquee in-state player in Kentucky’s football recruiting class.
He led Henry Clay in tackles for three straight years (he had 100 tackles and one interception as a senior) and was the top-rated defensive back in the state with offers from Georgia, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio State and many others along with UK.
He was a Class AAA 100-meter dash state champion as a sophomore and helped Henry Clay win team titles in 2015 and 2016.
Sometimes he played offense and scored seven touchdowns, including one on a 91-yard kickoff return.
But UK’s 2016 recruiting class included in-state players Landon Young of Lafayette, Drake Jackson of Woodford County and Kash Daniel of Paintsville. All three were U.S. Army All-Americans and the talk of the Bluegrass, especially since they all committed to Kentucky early.
“It never bothered me,” Robinson said about the lack of attention he often received from media members and UK fans. “We are a team and are all going to the same school. We are just here and we are going to represent Kentucky. I am happy for them to get that attention and I just hope we get the wins we want. I don’t really like that much attention any way. I am kind of low key.”
Jackson scrimmaged against Henry Clay twice in high school.
“Davonte is a great athlete. There is a reason Notre Dame offered him a scholarship and recruited him so hard,” Jackson said.
He says not to overlook receiver Zy’Aire Hughes of McCracken County, either.
“I think lot of guys are under appreciated. Zy’Aire Hughes, he is one of the fastest players on the team already. He is a great player and is real mature and knows what he is doing out there. There are a lot of guys out of Kentucky under appreciated,” Jackson said.
Like the other in-state freshmen, Robinson decided staying home and playing for UK was by far the best for him.
“It is like my backyard. I have grown up here and lived here my whole life. It’s always been a dream to play in the SEC. This is my opportunity and I took it,” Robinson, who said his favorite UK player was safety Winston Guy, said. “It is fun. It is like a brotherhood already. I am getting real comfortable with the coaches and rest of the team. I am just happy to be here.
“I grew up a UK fan and fan of some other teams, but this is where I wanted to be. My whole family is UK fans. I just grew up around UK fans and I sort of just grew up being a UK fan. I had all the UK gear.”
He has several high school teammates who are joining the team as walk-on players, too.
“I can help bring them in here and teach them and they can teach me things as well. It is fun to stay with people, but it is also fun to meet new people. I have the best of both,” Robinson said.
He knows playing time could be difficult this year with sophomore cornerbacks Chris Westry and Derrick Baity returning after superb freshman seasons. He says playing special teams would be “great” if he cannot get on the field in the secondary.
“Chris and Derrick have taught me a lot. They are great guys and great players. I look up to them,” he said. “They are like my older brothers, so whatever they can do to help me I am going to take it in and use it to try and make myself better.”