By LARRY VAUGHT
LOUISVILLE — Two days after changing his college commitment from Kentucky to Nebraska, Western Hills standout Wandale Robinson wasn’t surprised he was asked about the change of heart after he received the Paul Hornung Award given to the state’s top player by the Louisville Quarterback Club.
He said he changed his commitment after “just sitting down with family and where my heart and gut were telling me to go.” He said he had felt a “little pressure” when he committed to Kentucky but “at the end of the day had to decide where I wanted to go” and that’s why he changed to Nebraska.
Robinson’s change of heart came just one day after he received his All-American Bowl jersey and said he was still committed to UK. His switch also had some speculating he only committed to UK to help him win awards — he’s now won the first Mr. Football given by the state’s coaches, Hornung Award and Gatorade Player of the Year.
He finished his prep career with 814 points and 131 touchdowns, both second-best all-time in Kentucky. His 98 rushing touchdowns were sixth best and his 6,796 rushing yards rank 11th all-time in the state. He had 8,554 yards rushing and receiving.
Robinson shared these insights on his switch to Nebraska and what led to that after the Hornung Award ceremony.
Question: What about speculation that you just committed to UK to help you win awards? What would you say to those who might believe that?
Robinson: “I would say go ask the people who have voted for me if the college decision influenced me getting those awards. I won the coaches’ Mr. Football and they really didn’t care what school I was going to. I just feel I was deserving of the awards and deserved to get the awards and my college decision shouldn’t have any influence on my awards.”
Question: Why didn’t you just wait a few more days until after even getting this award and closer to signing day before changing your commitment to postpone some of the social media backlash that has been directed toward you?
Robinson: “I just wanted to be completely honest and let everybody know what I was planning to do and not put it off any longer. Obviously, in some of the interviews before that, I couldn’t just come out and say I was going to flip. That’s not a proper way to do that. Just some of the questions I had been asked before just obviously didn’t go my way. People always will have their own opinions and I can’t pay any attention except to those I am closest to.”
Question: How hard was it for you the day before you announced your flip to Nebraska when you told a group of media members that included me at the All-American Bowl jersey ceremony you were still solid with Kentucky?
Robinson: “Honestly, I feel like it was an obligation to say that. If I had said no, things would have got really bad and come out a totally different way than what I wanted. It was just one of those scenarios where you say what you need to say and not what you really want to say. If I had not answered, that would have given it away. Then I could not have formally explained why I was making the decision I was and that’s why I waited until the next day. That just was not the right time and place to do it (announce his decision about Nebraska).”
Question: What about the report that there was a disagreement between you and the Nebraska coaching staff before you committed to Kentucky?
Robinson: “We had a little conversation when things didn’t go over the way they should have but over time that relationship was repaired and I began to trust them (Nebraska coaches) again. I was ultimately able to make the decision that I really wanted to make the day I originally announced my commitment.”
Question: What about my impression that Nebraska was the team you have favored in recruiting since August?
Robinson: “Nebraska has always been my school. They were my school before I visited and once I visited, I was sold. I took all my visits to make sure I was 100 percent set on that but I was 100 percent set all the way until Oct. 31 (the day before he committed to Kentucky) and some things happened and I kind of fell under some pressure, too. But obviously, now I have made the best decision for me.”
Question: So you were set to commit to Nebraska on Nov. 1 — the day you picked because it was the birthday of your cousin, Shannon Davis, who died in October — before the disagreement with the Nebraska coaching staff?
Robinson: “Before the conversation (with the Nebraska coaches on Oct. 31) I was sold on I was going to Nebraska. Then some things happened and I started to hear from a lot of people that day and things weren’t going right. I couldn’t tell everybody that I wanted to go out of state. Now I decided to be a man and own up to what I wanted to do.”
Question: Did you ever consider maybe changing the commitment date or were you set on honoring your cousin and that helped lead to you going ahead and committing to Kentucky?
Robinson: “That was obviously her birthday and I wanted to honor her. It was a really great day for me and my family to do that but obviously, I probably should have waited.”
Question: What was it like telling Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and his staff that you had changed your mind and were going to Nebraska?
Robinson: “They were obviously upset and I understood. I just explained to them why and things like that. We had a good conversation. It was a mutual understanding. I have to do what I have to do and they have to do what they have to do. Things are obviously okay with me and them and I feel like I can still have a relationship with them outside of football.”
Question: Did they make another visit to hear your news or did you tell them on the phone?
Robinson: “I just called and talked to coach Stoops.”
Question: From Mr. Football on Sunday to All-American jersey on Tuesday to Paul Hornung Award ceremony and learning you won Gatorade Player of the Year on Thursday, how memorable has this week been for you?
Robinson: “It has been a really good week with highs and lows with the decision I had to make yesterday, but ultimately I have had a really good week. It’s probably one of the best weeks I have ever had and a really good way to send myself off because this is probably one of my last weeks in Kentucky (he will graduate early and enroll in classes at Nebraska starting Jan. 7th). It is really good to have this feeling and get all these awards.”