What’s it like to be a high school sophomore from the inner city of Pittsburgh receiving a phone call from one of the greatest football players of all time — who also happens to be Colorado’s new head coach offering you a scholarship?
Allow Westinghouse sophomore Kyshawn Robinson to explain.
“It was kind of weird, because I was just sitting in the living room, watching YouTube. I actually was watching [Colorado star freshman] Travis Hunter [highlights],” Robinson said. “I answered the phone, and it was silent for a little bit. Then [he said], ‘It’s Coach Prime,’ and I jumped out the chair.”
Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders wasn’t the only big-time college coach to make his pitch to Robinson in the past week, though. The day after Sanders offered Robinson to come play for the Buffaloes, Robinson received another call from an unknown number — although this time, he was in school. Luckily for him, Robinson’s teacher excused him from class to take the call in the hallway, and it turned out to be Southern California coach Lincoln Riley on the other end.
“I was kind of off-guard. I was in class,” Robinson said. “When I got the offer, it was like, ‘Whoa.’ … It’s not normal for a Western Pa. kid, an inner-city kid specifically, to get a call like that.”
With so many suitors attempting to secure his talents, nobody could blame Robinson for being a bit overwhelmed with all the attention coming his way as his recruitment continues to pick up steam. Instead, the influx of scholarship offers have inspired the highly coveted running back-defensive back to work even harder — be it in the weight room, at practice or during games.
Less than a week after receiving the offers from Colorado and USC, Robinson (5-10, 165) showcased his talents in a 34-18 win for the Bulldogs on Thursday against fierce rival University Prep. Robinson carried the ball eight times for 47 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also making several impressive pass breakups, living up to his reputation as one of the area’s stingiest shutdown corners.
“It’s big for the city,” Westinghouse coach Donta Green said about Robinson’s recruitment. “Hopefully more colleges and more coaches will come to pay attention to our kids right here in our own backyard.”
Although he’s one of the most sought-after players in the area, Robinson is still only one cog in the Bulldogs’ potent offensive attack. Senior Ty Abram led the team with 94 yards rushing on 10 carries to go with a touchdown on Thursday night, and freshman Laimon Bates added a 28-yard TD run of his own in the win. Meanwhile, senior receiver Taymir O’Neal flashed his big-play ability with three catches for 139 yards and a score.
With so many mouths to feed, Green knows Westinghouse’s championship aspirations will hinge on the unselfishness of his players and their willingness to put the team before their individual goals. One player he knows he’ll never have to worry about, though, is Robinson.
“He’s the type of kid, you don’t even have to tell him [anything],” Green said. “He texted me, I think it was Tuesday night, like, ‘Coach, I want you to be harder on me.’ He’s just one of those kids. I don’t have any fear of drop-off of work ethic, at all.”
Of course, as exciting as Robinson can be with the ball in his hands, it’s no secret that his future lies on the defensive side of the ball. He now holds Power Five offers from Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Syracuse, Texas A&M, USC and West Virginia, and all 10 of them are projecting him as a defensive back at the next level.
Watching Robinson play up close on Thursday night, it wasn’t hard to tell why so many of the NCAA’s blue bloods are enamored with his potential. He always remains patient and composed as plays are developing, even when left alone on an island against elite receivers like the Panthers’ duo of Xair Stevenson and Daniel “Boy Boy” Cain. With fluid hips and fleet footwork, Robinson is hardly ever out of position on defense, and if he does make a misstep, he has plenty of closing speed to make up for it. And to top it all off, he attacks the ball with aggression and knows how to high-point it like a receiver.
For a player as polished as Robinson is already, it’s easy to forget he’s only a sophomore with so much to learn and so much room still to grow. For now, his main focus lies on doing everything he can to help the Bulldogs win, as the pain still lingers from the only loss of his high school career to date in last year’s PIAA Class 2A championship against Southern Columbia.
“We used to say, ‘States or bust,’ but this year, it’s, ‘Win states or bust,’” Robinson said. “We want to win it this time.”
After losing a crop of standout seniors from last year’s squad, not many gave Westinghouse much of a chance at getting back to the state finals this fall — not many aside from the PUP, that is. But three games into the season, it’s clear this team is built for another deep playoff run, and Robinson and his teammates won’t settle for anything less than a return trip to the PIAA title game and a gold medal around their necks.
And why should they? With such a potent mix of veteran leaders and blossoming young stars surrounding Robinson as the team’s centerpiece, this could be just the beginning of a lengthy stretch of dominance for the Bulldogs — both inside the city limits and beyond.
“It’s just the tip of the iceberg [for Robinson],” Green said. “He’s still learning, but he’s still hungry to learn, which is all I ask for.”