By LARRY VAUGHT
Wandale Robinson admits he’s enjoyed the attention he’s received because he’s being recruited by the University of Kentucky.
The Western Hills speedster is one of the top players in the state going into the 2018 season and has been on Kentucky’s recruiting radar for some time. But that attention has increased since recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow became the lead recruiter for in-state players.
“It’s nice being the guy UK is recruiting and the attention that goes with it,” said Robinson, who has been laser timed in 4.4 seconds for the 40-yard dash. “But then it goes back to what happens if I choose a different school. I don’t know how the fans would react then. Kentucky has been recruiting me hard since they started recruiting me. Once other schools offered, they probably have even recruited me a little more.”
He has 18 scholarship offers from Duke, Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest, Western Kentucky and more. He led the state in rushing last year with 2,330 yards while averaging 13.2 yards per attempt. He caught 25 passes for 343 yards. He had 43 total touchdowns — 33 rushing, six receiving, three kickoff returns, one punt return. He also played safety and had 60 tackles and two interceptions.
He ran for 2,015 yards and 28 touchdowns as a sophomore and caught 22 passes for 434 yards and three scores.
Robinson knows Kentucky has a talented group of senior high school football players but admits he would like to be named Mr. Football. Last year’s winner, Danville’s D’Maurie VanCleave, was a similar type player. Robinson is a bit taller at 5-9 and a bit heavier at 170 pounds, but both have the same speed and game-breaking ability. VanCleave was the first Danville player to be named Mr. Football. Robinson would be the first at Western Hills if he won.
“Mr. Football would be a big deal, not just to Wandale, but for this school,” Western Hills coach Don Miller said. “Obviously, numbers speak for what he has done just like numbers did for VanCleave. Like VanCleave, he’s also an impact player for us on defense. He does not come off the field. He’s out there for offense, defense, special teams even though not a lot of teams kick to him.”
Robison said winning Mr. Football was a goal he set even before he started playing high school football.
“Me being a heavily recruited guy might help with that, too. I always want to prove I am the best and will do what it takes to be the best,” Robinson said.
He played baseball — center field — his first two years in high school. He played basketball until he got to high school.
“No matter what sport I played, I wanted to be the best,” Robinson said.
That competitive nature is something Marrow likes to see in athletes. Robinson said the UK recruiting coordinator treats him “like a son” and he appreciates that.
“It’s more like a son deal and bonding that way than it is a player and coach relationship with him,” Robinson said. “It’s more man to man, and I like that. We’ve been though some similar things. With them being the home state school and being able to play in front of family and friends, that’s a big thing. They were like three plays away from being a 10-win team last year. They are getting good and getting better players every year.”
Don’t discount Duke, which has two players projected already as first-round picks in the 2019 NFL draft. Coach David Cutcliffe has a “great legacy with slot receivers” like current Washington Redskin receiver Jamison Crowder that Robinson appreciates.
“Most people see Duke as an academic school that is just average in football,” Robinson said. “But they are up there now with coach Cutcliffe. They were like my seventh offer, so they have been with me a long time.”
Robinson really has not narrowed his college choices yet and has not made any firm plans for where he might visit or go to camp this summer. However, he does plan to make a college choice before his senior season starts in mid-August.
“I will just sit down with my mom and people I am close with and decide some stuff,” he said. “A lot of schools preach what I want to hear. I understand that. I have to sit down with my family and figure out what is best for me. But I plan to be committed before my season starts.”
He also plans to enroll in college early by graduating in December, something Western Hills does allow.
“A lot of college coaches like that. That’s why I am already on the road to graduating in December,” Robinson said.