Land of 10 has embarked on a series of “Next Generation” articles, a project that aims to bring our readers greater insight into the class of 2017 signees. Land of 10 Michigan writers Rachel Lenzi and Kevin Goheen are hard at work visiting this year’s Michigan incoming class of freshmen to show you more than their 40-yard dash times and recruiting rankings. Though the series will officially debut in March, we talked with Westerville (Ohio) punter Brad Robbins to give you a sneak peek at what you can expect.
WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Brad Robbins called his shot. Robbins told teammates on the Westerville South High School sidelines he was going to take off running the next time he lined up for a punt if the opportunity presented itself. It was the last game of the season, and Olentangy Orange had already blocked one of Robbins’ attempts earlier in the game. Orange came with an over-balanced rush from Robbins’ right side and got to him in less than a second, leaving him with no chance to kick the football away.
“Hand-to-foot, it was point-8 seconds. That’s pretty quick,” Robbins said. “After that I went over and told the injured guys on the sideline, ‘Look, if they’re going to do that again, I’m going to catch the ball, I’m going to take off left and I’m going to score.’ The next fourth down, a bad snap, I took off and I …”
Robbins officially went 84 yards for the touchdown, although considering he scooped up the low snap just past the goal line it was closer to a full 100-yard dash for him. And he got there untouched.
Specialists don’t often get a lot of attention in the recruiting game but Robbins went from a virtual unknown committed to Nevada to signing with Michigan a few days after all the National Signing Day hoopla had ended thanks in part to his not-so-mad dash and some impressive performances at various kicking camps after the season ended. A coaching change at Nevada gave Robbins reason to re-open his recruitment. Booming consistent 50-yard punts with hang times in the neighborhood of 5 seconds further caught the eye of recruiters.
Illinois, Navy and Michigan were among the programs that came calling on Robbins. They all saw more than his right leg.
They saw an athlete.
90+ yard touchdown? Sure, why not? pic.twitter.com/5HZAMGqHMv
— Brad Robbins (@brobb713) October 29, 2016
“Run fake punts, fake plays. You’ve got to be able to throw the ball, you’ve got to be able to run the ball,” Robbins said. “You’ve got to be able to catch the ball. If you’re going to punt the ball, you’ve got to catch it first.”
Robbins originally attended nearby Worthington Christian, a small private school that began its football program his freshman year. After three years there he transferred to Westerville South — from where his mother Kristi, father Eric, and older siblings Eric and Brooke all graduated. At Worthington Christian, he played soccer, football, basketball and baseball; he will play baseball this spring as a pitcher and shortstop.
The departure of Kenny Allen, who added the punting duties last season to his job as Michigan’s kicker, gives Robbins an opportunity to play immediately next season. Robbins went to his first punting camp after his sophomore season. He stayed under the radar until re-opening his recruitment but is rated the No. 1 punter in the country by Kornbluekicking.com, No. 3 by Prokicker.com, and No. 4 by Kohlskicking.com.
“I didn’t really consider going to college for punting until after that (first) camp,” Robbins said. “I hit a couple 5-second hang times and a couple of guys told me I should really consider this going into college.”
I’ll have more on Robbins, including what it’s like to be a kid from Columbus who signs with Michigan, in his Next Generation profile. Be sure to look for it and profiles on other members of Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class when the series begins the week of March 5.