- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
PSU commit Neiko Robinson (Bratt, Fla./Northview) will make his first trip to Penn State on an official visit Jan. 18, and NittanyNation recently spoke with the defensive back about the upcoming visit, his commitment to PSU and his strengths/weaknesses.
NittanyNation: Neiko, let's start it off with the question a lot of people are eager to hear. You live in ACC/SEC country -- so why choose Penn State?
Neiko Robinson: I mean, to me, it's like a legendary school. Down here, the only thing everybody talks about is Alabama, LSU and Auburn, but I always liked Penn State and I always knew they were a good school. I love Joe Paterno, and my dad's favorite team is Miami, and he kept talking about how Penn State beat them in the national championship [in the 1986 season]. So it's like a dream to me.
NN: You said you always liked Penn State -- so, even growing up in SEC country, you were still a a fan of the Big Ten?
NR: Well, yeah, I've just always been a fan. It is mostly SEC down here. You find a football fan down here, it's going to be SEC all the way. But I was always hoping in my mind -- I mean, me, I've always liked Northwestern for some reason. I don't know why. And I love Wisconsin. So everyone's asking me why I didn't go to an SEC school and, well, I didn't want to.
Penn State gave me a first shot. Florida State, they didn't come until after the fact that Penn State noticed me and I went to a Florida State camp. They were like, 'We kinda want you,' and I was like, well, I'm sticking with Penn State. I was actually on vacation; the only reason I went is because I had nothing else to do. I was at my uncle's house, and he told me to go up there because a friend wanted me to go with.
NN: What's been the reaction around your community with your commitment to the Nittany Lions?
NR: I mean, I know and everybody else knows that the SEC is kind of the best in college football. I'm just being honest. And it's crazy down here because they take it so seriously and put so much money and time in it. ... So there's going to be a lot of fans and boosters saying, 'Why don't you go here?' And then you explain why, and they're just like, 'I don't want to hear that.'
I want to play against them. They're good players, but they're not gods. And I want everyone to understand that. I mean, they're good. I give them that, but I just don't like what the SEC's all about. ... I have a lot of friends that go to Alabama or play at LSU or Missouri and I talk to them all the time. They tell me they got this or they got that, but I want to go to Penn State. I'm a Penn State fan. I love the whole Penn State nation and, honestly, going to Penn State, it's just like going to Alabama. Playing in front of 100,000 people -- that means a lot. And Penn State keeps it honest.
NN: We have you projected as a safety, but is that what Penn State's looking at you for? And can you break down your strengths and weaknesses as a DB?
NR: Yeah, they said they're going to try me at corner and safety, maybe switch me around. I played linebacker in high school, so I'm familiar with every position except D-line.
And, well, I feel like the thing that I have to improve on is my flexibility in my hips because I'm tight in my hips, but I don't think it really shows. I think the biggest thing I have to work on is getting bigger. I'm 170 pounds, so I have to get bigger and stronger. I'm stronger than I'm big; I squatted 500 pounds but then focused on my flexibility and went down to 425 pounds. When I get up there, that'll change.
NN: Normally, when I ask players for strengths and weaknesses I get like 10 strengths for every one weakness. You seem pretty humble and you didn't mention your speed at all. Is that not a strength? What do you feel separates you from others at your position then?
NR: Well, honestly, I just kind of play the game. I really don't know. Yeah, I'm fast, but I could be quicker. I can run a consistent 4.4 or low 4.5. I can run that consistently, but my hips are super tight and my trainer is like, 'You can stretch and loosen your hips up when you go to Penn State.' He told me I could probably get my 40 down to a 4.2 or 4.3; he works with NFL players, so he knows what he's talking about.
2dJosh Moyer and Tom VanHaaren