SOUTH BEND – Corey Robinson grew up figuring he would partly follow in his father’s footsteps.
Even if he wasn’t going to play basketball like his father, former NBA great David Robinson, Corey wanted to attend the Naval Academy like his dad.
It was a plan the two-time NBA champion and basketball Hall of Famer, who earned the nickname “The Admiral” after being selected with the No. 1 pick by the San Antonio Spurs in 1987, wasn’t totally on board with.
“He was telling me horror stories,” Corey said. “I think he was trying to scare me out of it. He was all like, ‘You have to wake up at 5 in the morning, and all the PT we had to do in addition to basketball and football.’ He said he didn’t get any sleep the whole time.
“And he’s a smart guy, and he told me he got some bad grades his first couple years. And I was like, ‘Hmm, I don’t know if that’s for me or not.’ ”
With a seed planted that maybe Navy wasn’t the right path, a new direction sprung to life for Corey when Notre Dame offered the receiver a scholarship.
“It completely surprised me,” Corey said of the Irish’s offer. “What happened was I going to a camp, my first camp ever, and two or three weeks later I get a call that Notre Dame offered me. I was a zero-star recruit. I never had a college coach at my practice before. That came completely out of the blue.
“When Notre Dame offered I kind of opened my mind up a little bit and checked out some other possibilities. I came up here and saw how incredible it was. I had to say, ‘Sorry, Pops, I’m going in a different direction.’ ”
Corey’s different direction has led to an interesting dilemma for the family today.
Notre Dame (6-2) plays host to Navy (4-3) today, and Corey wants to make sure his father – who is a loyal supporter of the Midshipmen – is on the Irish’s side for at least one game.
“I need to talk to my dad about this, make sure he’s wearing my jersey or wearing Notre Dame something as opposed to Navy,” Corey said. “But I think my grandpa, who also served in the Navy, might be wearing Navy. I don’t know. There’s a lot of Navy happening right now. I need to change that.”
What Corey doesn’t need to change is how he is performing and continues to improve in his first year.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder had his first touchdown catch in last week’s 45-10 win over Air Force, a 35-yard reception with 3:41 to play in the first quarter. He has played in every game, making three starts, and has five receptions for 101 yards.
“He’s spent a lot of time learning the game of football and understanding what we are doing,” quarterback Tommy Rees said of Corey.
“He’s a big guy. He can go up there and get it for us. That is one of his strengths. He has really worked hard to understand the game of football. He’s an extremely hard working kid. He wants to be the best that he can be. He has developed tenfold since he’s come here.”
Note: Notre Dame added its 17th commitment to the 2014 recruiting class Friday as Nick Watkins, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound cornerback from Bishop Dunne Catholic in Dallas, orally committed to the Irish, according to reports.