Little Admiral: Robinson growing into football star, Renaissance man
Though new to the game, David Robinson's son calls football his strongest sport
Corey Robinson also excels in basketball, academics, music, foreign languages
Corey once dreamed of following his father to Navy, but now has more options
The emerging portrait of 16-year-old Corey Robinson -- athlete, musician, scholar -- combines the light and shadow of two eras. He is a mass of Renaissance brush strokes on a canvas of 21st Century color.
The middle son of Hall of Fame basketball center David Robinson, Corey excels as a wide receiver at San Antonio Christian (Texas) High, ranks among the top 10 students in his junior class and possesses an astonishing range of abilities and interests.
He taught himself to play the guitar and drums, took 10 years of piano, learned the ukulele on vacation, played the saxophone in middle school, picked up the bass from his dad, makes jaw-dropping dunks for the basketball team, is a two-time state tennis qualifier in doubles, loves to cook, is teaching himself to speak French and plans to learn Italian over the summer.
Until recently, he considered following his famous father to the U.S. Naval Academy. Four years of academic rigor, followed by a five-year enlistment seemed like a great way to serve his country and see the world. But then he blossomed into something he never expected -- a star football player attracting the attention of Division I schools.
With his sure hands, athletic genes and body type -- 6-foot-5, 190 pounds and still growing -- Corey recognizes the possibilities. He also recognizes the dicey, uncertain path to the NFL. After a recent basketball practice, Corey took a seat on the gym bleachers and mused about his future. "I'd like to become a doctor or a biologist, of some sort," he said. "Or maybe work in the film industry."
Basketball does not fit into the picture. Hoops is a diversion, something to do between the fall and spring. "Football," he says, "is my best sport."
At the same age, Corey's father did not play hoops. He played piano, taught himself the saxophone, listened to jazz, enjoyed classical music, amused himself with computers, played golf and tennis, read voraciously and fiddled with electronics. He once built a 6-foot television set from a kit, just to see if he could. "I think Corey gets a little bit of his [varied] interests from me," David says, "but he takes it to the next level."
The father once bought a drum kit for his son. David forgot about it until he walked into his brother's church and saw Corey, drumming for the praise band, not missing a beat. "When did you learn to play?" David asked after the service.
"Corey shrugged and muttered something self-deprecating. David knew better and smiled. His son is full of surprises. Once, Corey expressed an interest in becoming a veterinarian. He took an internship in an office and decided, no, that's not for him.
During one family excursion over the winter, Corey took a job in a pro shop, renting snow skis. While visiting Hawaii, he worked for two days as a prep chef at Spago Maui, a four-star Wolfgang Puck restaurant. "They taught him to make chicken and pizza for us," David recalls. "Every time we go on vacation, he wants to work."
The kid cuts a striking profile. Long, muscled arms. Strong shoulders. Inquisitive eyes. A face that could grace a magazine cover. He is quick to smile and quick to shake hands, with a grip you'd expect around a barbell.
He looks like a star athlete, but you won't find him ranked among the nation's top juniors in football. A raw, developing talent, Corey only started playing the sport a few years ago. "His freshman and sophomore year, he didn't have any football knowledge," says San Antonio Christian Schools football coach Bryan Marmion. "But he was a sponge, always asking questions, always watching the guys ahead of him, trying to learn as much as any player I've been around."
Last fall, the student became a player. He leaped over defensive backs, snatched balls out of the sky and tumbled across goal lines. At tiny San Antonio Christian -- high school enrollment: 367 -- Corey did not attract a whiff of media. The 42 passes he caught for 645 yards and 10 touchdowns went virtually unnoticed. The San Antonio Express-News ran box scores but rarely a game narrative. Corey couldn't have been more obscure if he were on a submarine in the Pacific.
Or so it seemed. As the season progressed and San Antonio Christian marched deep into the playoffs, the athletic office phone began ringing. The University of Texas wanted film. Kansas did, too. College coaches began popping up in the stands, and murmurs rose in the brisk autumn chill. Did you see who came tonight?