For the second time in three years, Kentucky is courting Wan’Dale Robinson. In 2018 Kentucky’s Mr. Football initially said yes to Mark Stoop and Vince Marrow. After a change of heart, Robinson went to Nebraska. Despite the devastating news, UK’s staff never burnt any bridges, leaving the door open for a possible return. Could it happen?
As most football recruits will tell you, it’s hard to say no to Vince Marrow. It must be even more difficult to say no to Marrow twice. On Monday Robinson entered the transfer portal with three years of eligibility remaining.
“Being away from my mother and not seeing her during the season hurt me,” Robinson said. “I intend to find a place closer to my mother and family that will still allow me to achieve my dreams and goals.”
The Wildcats are the early favorites in the 2021 Wan’Dale Robinson sweepstakes. If Robinson does return home to play for Kentucky, here’s what he would mean for the 2021 Kentucky football team.
A Wide Receiver or a Running Back
Robinson can do just about anything you ask of him on a football field. If UK needs an explosive, change of pace running back, Robinson can do it. Need an easy toss and catch that can turn into a huge gain? Wan’Dale can take a screen or a pitch-pass and make people miss. He’s a slot receiver that isn’t afraid to make plays across the middle of the field.
The question is less about what Wan’Dale can do and what offensive coordinators should do with his versatile skill-set. Football junkies will tell you that Scott Frost grossly misused Robinson, failing to consistently get him the ball in space where he is at his best. If he comes to Kentucky, I would not expect him to carry the ball unless it’s a jet sweep.
There were a few grievances made by UK fans throughout the 2020 season, particularly on special teams. Most of the errors did not occur in the return game, but the return game did not add much to Kentucky’s attack. It’s a stark contrast to the playmaking ability Lynn Bowden brought to the position in 2018. He single-handedly sparked a comeback at Missouri and gave UK an early lead in the Citrus Bowl by returning punts for scores. Robinson would once again give Kentucky an X-factor on special teams.
Another Reliable Option for Liam Coen
Kentucky’s offense will look much different in 2021 than it did in 2020. There will be new coaches in the trenches and in the backfield. There will be a new play-caller. There will be a new quarterback. For all of the new guys to succeed, they need to be surrounded by experienced talent.
There is help in the trenches with three starters, including All-American Darian Kinnard, returning. Kentucky’s tight end room might be one of the deepest in the SEC. Kentucky’s leading receiver in 2020, Josh Ali, is also back for another season. Whoever is under center to start the season for Coen would love to have another reliable target and Robinson could be that guy.
The previous 500 words were used as a long way to explain something simple: Robinson is an elite athlete. They say “you can’t coach speed.” You also can’t coach the agility and acceleration Robinson has on a football field.
Wan’Dale Robinson is the kind of athlete you need to have to win in the SEC, yet UK has struggled to consistently recruit that kind of player to Lexington. When Stoops and Marrow got Lynn Bowden to campus, history-making wins followed. Robinson is a caliber of player that can take the Wildcats to new heights if he chooses to transfer to Kentucky.