No matter how old you are, being the new kid at school can be difficult. Fifth-year wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. is in that exact situation after transferring to Northwestern.
Robinson has already proven himself as a legit player at the Power 5 level during his three seasons at Kansas University. Although his time there was marred by injuries and the COVID-impacted season, he had a standout year back in 2019 when he posted 45 catches that translated to eight touchdowns and 727 yards, good for seventh in the Big 12.
Now at Northwestern, the Wildcats are hoping Robinson can regain his junior-season form after losing multiple wide receivers from last season to the NFL Draft and the transfer portal.
Yet, there’s an interesting dichotomy at play in Robinson’s new situation. As Drake said on his song, “0 To 100,” Robinson really is "both the rookie and the vet." Both an elder statesman of the group as a fifth-year graduate student and one of the newest players to join the roster, which has been a factor in finding his role within the team.
“It’s kind of different because I am an older guy but coming into a school's team that already has established leaders and has already won, I'm trying to find out where I fit in,” Robinson admitted.
“In some spaces I'm an active listener, you know it's older guys that are even [older than me], you know, trying to teach me stuff and then obviously [with younger guys] I try to teach them things that I've gone through before.”
However, unlike most kids starting at a new school, Robinson has plenty of teammates who are more than happy to help him get acclimated. “My roommate [senior wide receiver] Berkeley Holman is from California too, so we really connected. But coming here we're both older guys. I'm always asking him stuff about the offense.”
While this is his first camp at Northwestern, Robinson has been through the grind of training camps many times over at his previous stops, and he’s already noticed a few differences in how this camp is being conducted as opposed to some of the previous ones.
“I would say as far as the periods and stuff like this, it's a lot more intense,” he said. “At Kansas we had a lot more periods but it was stretched out a little bit. Here, we're going hard every period and then we also get a lot of supplemental work ... So we're like working on a lot of techniques and stuff.”
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The main difference he’s noticed between the two programs? “I would say here they've won a lot recently ... so just the extra work and stuff like that, it's a lot. It's a lot different.”
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