Wandale Robinson has visited the University of Kentucky’s campus countless times. As the nation’s ninth-ranked all-purpose back nears a decision, the Frankfort native described to KSR a much different atmosphere during last night’s unofficial visit to UK.
Robinson spent most of his time with Vince Marrow, Michael Smith and Mark Stoops. They toured the facilities, took photographs and went to The Cliff to watch the UK baseball game.
“Coach Marrow’s now the one taking over my recruiting,” Robinson told KSR. “Coach Marrow and (wide receivers) Coach (Michael) Smith, they’ve been coming hard at me a lot. I really got to spend a lot of time with them.”
Over the last month, Marrow has spent more and more time talking to Robinson. Now his lead recruiter, Robinson likes the pitch he’s hearing. “It changed things a lot because he recruits hard. The stuff he tells me, it’s true whenever you sit down and look at it.”
Last night he also got to spend time with a new member of Mark Stoops’ staff that might be a game-changer, Freddie Maggard.
“I never really got to talk to Freddie once he got there about the Player Development stuff. That aspect of what they provide whenever you get on campus and once you get done with football, how he helps you and stuff like that. It was very helpful.”
In his capacity as Director of UK Player Development, Freddie cannot recruit. However, once players are on campus he’s free to meet with them, describe his role and explain to them what UK’s program has to offer. It’s not the first time the two have talked.
“Personally, Freddie saw me whenever I was a freshman. He came and spoke to my team during camp week, and he told me I was going to go play SEC football. So I just know how he is and the things he would provide. He’s a Kentucky kid and he told me, ‘Kentucky people want Kentucky kids to play at Kentucky.’ He was able to explain to me how all of that works.”
One of the best recruits from the state of Kentucky, last year Wandale led the state in rushing (2,330 yards) and scoring (260 points) to earn First Team All-State honors. Robinson carried Western Hills to an 8-4 record behind 13.3 yards per carry, 13.7 yards per catch for a total of 3,276 all-purpose yards and 43 touchdowns. Most of the points came on the ground (33 to be exact), but he scored in a variety of ways with six through the air, three off kick returns and one score from a punt return.
Robinson does it all, and that’s exactly what Kentucky’s coaches want him to do in Lexington.
“If you were to come here, the punt return job, you can win that as long as you can catch punts and do what you do,” Robinson recalled the UK coaches’ pitch. “You’ll be replacing Lynn (Bowden) your sophomore year, but you’ll still play about 30-40 snaps your freshman year. They said (I’d play) the Wildcat, slot, running back, so I’ll be moved around a lot.”
UK is not the only program pursuing “Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden.” Duke, Indiana, Northwestern and Nebraska have also put on the full-court press. “Ohio State’s been on me really hard, but still has not offered me. It’s kind of weird.” He’s visited all of his potential suitors, except for Nebraska.
Robinson does not have a firm decision date, although he wants to make a choice before the start of his senior football season at Western Hills. He plans on creating a video to make his decision, one that’s prepared to begin production whenever he’s ready.
“Whenever my time-table is right, whenever I feel right, that’s when we’ll start,” he said. “I just have to sit down and talk with my family; just really look at everything that each team provides for me and make the best decision for me.”
Until then, the University of Kentucky coaching staff is going to do everything they can to convince Wandale that staying home will be his best possible decision.