Corey Robinson is truly the big man on campus at Notre Dame.
Student-athletes. It can be easy to forget, with the constant attention surrounding these young adults, that ‘student’ comes before ‘athlete.’
There’s this notion or stigma that you have to do only one thing year-round
Their fans watch them in a stadium or on TV, their classmates adore them on campus, and their schools give them incredible resources. With scandals involving academics and improper benefits developing, there is skepticism over where the line between student and athlete is really drawn. It is rare to hear about a productive Division I athlete who dedicates just as much time into being a student.
Especially for someone like Notre Dame wide receiver Corey Robinson.
Of course, he is the son of NBA legend David Robinson, and he inherited the Admiral’s lean, athletic frame. When he first started earning a lot of playing time, that’s all the broadcasters could really say about him. It’s all too obvious that he will excel on the football field and pursue a professional career, right?
Think again. Robinson has a new nickname of his own; the President.
Earlier this month, Robinson was elected as the University of Notre Dame’s student body president, becoming the first Irish football player to ever do so. He and his running mate, Becca Blais, collected 59 percent of the votes with their promise to improve campus policies on community engagement, health and wellness, sexual assault, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. Yet, this is merely the peak of Robinson’s extra-curricular career.
His numbers on the field during his junior season in 2015 may have decreased, if only because his workload off the field increased. Robinson was taking 18 credits, wrote his senior thesis, started a non-profit and served as the vice president of the Student-Athletes Advisory Council, all while playing football on the side.
His involvement is unheard of for an athlete in a major program like Notre Dame. Even more so for someone who has actually produced for the team, tallying 65 catches and seven touchdowns in his career. Robinson, who wasn’t even sure if he would return to play for the Irish during his senior season, admitted that it will be nice to focus on just his presidency and football in 2016.
Coach Brain Kelley gladly welcomed Robinson back, knowing that he would provide valuable leadership to a young Irish receiving corps. He certainly won’t rule out a possible NFL career, but Robinson has much greater goals in mind as well. He applied to the prestigious Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships, and says he would love to study with “the best and brightest minds” at Oxford. At one point, he was considering joining a program that would allow him to teach in Brazil while earning a master’s degree in education.
Clearly a gifted young man in many ways, Robinson has gotten the absolute most out of his opportunities at Notre Dame. He embodies what every student-athlete should strive to be. Athletes specifically have a greater reach than most other students, and they should use their influence to positively affect those around them.
“There’s this notion or stigma that you have to do only one thing year-round,” Robinson explained after getting elected. “You can’t be excellent at something if you’re passionate about two things. You have to choose one. I think we’re actually crippling a lot of our student-athletes.”
Robinson is a breath of fresh air in the landscape of college athletics, and we can only hope that his example begins to set a new precedent.