Quiet Assassin: Wan'Dale Robinson's college coach knows Giants rookie will quickly show how tough he is

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Wan'Dale Robinson Treated Image
Wan'Dale Robinson Treated Image

Before he was taken by the Giants in the second round, Wan'Dale Robinson was in New York on NFL Network's Good Morning Football doing a media tour prior to the 2022 NFL Draft.

He was a little slouched over in his chair, smiling and laughing as the GMFB crew hyped him up. But when co-host Kyle Brandt told Robinson to look into the camera and tell his future team and their fanbase what they should expect of him in the NFL, he sat up straight and tall, the smile transitioned to a stern, even lip and he stared right into the lens and said:

"I think you should take me because, at the end of the day, I think I’m the most versatile and talented offensive player in this draft. I’m not really going to talk about it or anything. I just want to come in and work. I’m going to do everything the team asks me to do. I’m going to be tough. At the end of the day, just be reliable and be the guy you need me to be.”

It's an answer that Kentucky associate head coach Vince Marrow expected from his now-former wide receiver.

"That's why I call him the quiet assassin," Marrow told SNY recently. "You may look at Wan’Dale and say he’s such a sweet little young dude, this and that. Next thing, he’s trying to take your head off. He come in looking all gentle and nice, and he will carve you up."

At 5-foot-8, 178 pounds, anyone reading Robinson's scouting report wouldn't expect him to be this way. Marrow, who is also the recruiting coordinator and NFL liaison for Kentucky's football program, thought the same thing when he started looking into the Frankfort, Ky. native in Robinson.

Of course, guys of his stature have still played vital roles on football teams for decades, but there's normally a specific way they do so.

"I think if you look at him, you’ll project him as a gadget guy until you really see him and you realize this kid’s a damn good football player," Marrow said. "He can play inside, play outside, he can run jet sweeps, he can catch the bubble screens, and can also run scheme routes, corner routes, digs. He can do it all. He’s a football player.”

Marrow brought up Miami Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill and Arizona Cardinals WR Rondale Moore, another Kentucky native, as comparisons to Robinson. Yes, a perennial Pro Bowler in Hill, and when you see the tape, the potential is definitely there.

What Robinson might lack in size, he certainly doesn't lack in toughness. It's something Marrow saw first-hand when he was able to finally have Robinson on his Wildcats roster after he decommitted, went to Nebraska and transferred back in 2021.

"Even when I recruited him, I get caught up in it," Marrow said about Robinson's size. "I’m recruiting this kid who’s 5-foot-8 at 175 [pounds], can he really do it?

"I envisioned he would be what he is, but I didn’t think it would be all of that. I thought he would catch maybe 70 balls and score some touchdowns. The part that I didn’t know, even knowing this kid, was how tough he is and how smart he was. He’s like another coach on the field."

Instead, Robinson landed in Kentucky and was ranked second in the SEC in receiving yards with 1,334 and third in the NCAA in receptions with 104. Mix in seven touchdowns and Robinson was immediately catching the eyes of scouts, especially playing in the hardest conference in college football.

“For the last 16 years, the SEC has dominated the draft. Week in and week out, we’ve seen NFL players from top to bottom. You watch what that kid did to this league and did to a lot of good teams we played. After the Florida game, I was like ‘Man, this year is going to leave this year. This kid is a damn good football player,'" Marrow said, referencing Robinson's four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown against the Gators.

But that's not even the most impressive performance Robinson put up. He had three 100-yard-plus games in his first three appearances in the blue and white uniform. And then there was the bowl game against Iowa where Kentucky wasn't supposed to win.

Robinson, though, basically made it happen on the game-winning drive.

He hauled in four catches for 86 yards to set up a goal-line punch for the Wildcats in what would be a 10-catch, 170-yard last dance for Robinson at Kentucky.

Just take a look at the skill and toughness required to make these catch-and-runs happen:

"He came to me in that bowl game, that last drive when we were down, and Wan’Dale’s a very respectful young man," Marrow explained. "He came to me – I’m about 6-foot-4, 275, 280 – and said ‘Coach, get me the damn ball.’ Ain’t too many players say that to me, but I looked and said this kid, I knew he really meant that last drive was all him. That’s just the type of player he is."

So there's more than meets the eye, especially for those fans that didn't understand why the Giants took him at No. 43 overall. GM Joe Schoen even said he believed Robinson wouldn't have been in the third round if he didn't hand in his card then.

It's that quiet assassin that comes out on game day, on the practice field, and in the weight room that most likely enticed the Giants to bring him in. Did they have someone very similar in Kadarius Toney? Sure. But Marrow, who saw Toney at Florida, thinks the Giants won't mind those two on the field together.

"The way the new NFL is, it’s like basketball: You can never have too many weapons, especially two guys like that," he said.

"Wan’Dale can line up at Z, X, slot and tailback. I just think with both those guys on the field, it’s going to be a problem, especially you got the running back you got. And [head coach Brian] Daboll, he’s a great mind for offensive creation. He’s sitting in his office right now probably fired up about how he’s going to use these two.”

Joe Douglas has changed Jets' narrative with shrewd m
Joe Douglas has changed Jets' narrative with shrewd m

So Robinson can be used in any way the Giants see fit -- just as Toney can. That's what will be so interesting about their offense this season, with playmakers like these motioning, jet sweeping, bubble screening and deep ball running their way for yards.

But, as Robinson stated, he's going to earn his playing time and do whatever his team wants him to do. He won't be cocky or boast about what he'll be able to do.

In fact, Marrow said that when Robinson transferred into Kentucky, even as a highly touted transfer, that was his exact mindset: Head down, work, earn snaps.

"He came in with this high praise, and he came in very humble. I mean, we wanted to put him at No. 1 receiver day one," Marrow said. "He said ‘Coach, no. Let me just earn my way so I can prove my teammates that I am who I am.’”

It's that mentality, matched with "his God-given abilities" that Marrow believes will have Giants fans screaming his name, buying his jersey, and loving everything the second-rounder will do for Big Blue.

"Wan’Dale Robinson is a different dude. The fans are going to see that quick. Trust me."