Making the Case: Five-star TE Duce Robinson
The Early Signing Period got all the attention, but the February National Signing Day had its own share of exciting twists and turns. Phoenix Pinnacle tight end Duce Robinson was the only five-star left unsigned on Wednesday. The elite prospect has his list narrowed down to Georgia, Oregon, Texas and USC, but the hitch in the plans for college teams is Robinson’s Major League Baseball draft status.
DuckSportsAuthority.com’s Matt Moreno, TrojanSports.com’s Ryan Young, UGASports.com’s Jed May, Cole Patterson of OrangeBloods.com and national recruiting director Adam Gorney make their case for where Robinson may go and then Gorney issues his verdict.
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Texas is right in the thick of things to potentially add another five-star to its 2023 class in Robinson, although there is still work to be done after he delayed his signing.
The Longhorns have intriguing selling points to pitch to Robinson. For one, Arch Manning and Robinson have a close relationship and their friendship has grown throughout the process. Catching passes from Manning in Austin has to be something Robinson is considering. His presence would provide Steve Sarkisian and the Texas offense with another legitimate threat alongside five-star wide receiver Johntay Cook, All-Big 12 wideout Xavier Worthy, tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders and the stable of running backs.
Furthermore, baseball looks to be a big component in Robinson's decision. Texas has the best baseball program of the programs battling it out for Robinson. The Longhorns are consistently in the race to make it to the College World Series, with 35 trips to Omaha, and they have the developmental track record that has to be appealing to the two-sport star. He would be able to showcase his talents on the gridiron and on the diamond for teams looking to compete.
When you also include the bright lights of Austin and NIL opportunities that could be available, Texas has a very compelling package to sell Robinson on. - Patterson
Georgia has done a tremendous job positioning itself well with Robinson despite having two tight ends already in the class. The Bulldogs have sold him on the vision of utilizing his unique skill set in Athens. A hybrid role in the mold of Brock Bowers comes to mind. Tight ends coach Todd Hartley doesn’t miss often, and now he’s all in on adding Robinson to close out the 2023 class. - May
The class of 2023 five-stars already in place for USC spent time at the Polynesian Bowl making the case for – and to – Robinson. QB Malachi Nelson and WR Zachariah Branch emphasized both the advantage of playing in Lincoln Riley's offense and the advantage of playing in an offense with so many elite playmakers that it would be unlikely Robinson would face much double coverage at all, and he would more likely frequently be in advantageous matchups.
Some point to USC's limited tight end usage in the passing game last year. Well, that's simply because it didn't have a Robinson at the position. Riley's history shows he likes to utilize tight ends. He helped develop one of the NFL's best in Mark Andrews while at Oklahoma. Robinson is the missing piece for the offensive arsenal Riley has compiled for the years to come. USC did surprisingly sign four-star TE Walker Lyons on Wednesday, but he will not be there next year while serving his LDS mission. And the tight end depth chart will be clearing out after next season anyway. - Young
Oregon and Robinson’s relationship has been an interesting one. The Ducks have managed to hang around in his recruitment, but it has never felt quite like they are a major threat to land him. Robinson including Dan Lanning’s program on his short list is meaningful, however, and delaying his signing will keep Oregon’s chances alive for the time being. It feels like a visit will have to happen before the Ducks can truly be considered a serious contender, but the pieces could absolutely fit. For starters, Oregon missing out on Nyckoles Harbor leaves a clear need for a player at the position.
Teaming Robinson with signee Kenyon Sadiq could make for a potent combination at tight end. Plus, offensive coordinator Will Stein’s offense that is coming to Eugene this year will prioritize getting the ball downfield and into the end zone. Robinson certainly has a unique blend of size and athleticism to be a dangerous weapon in the system. - Moreno
There is a real possibility that Robinson gets taken high in the MLB Draft, maybe not in the first round, but early enough to really make him consider playing baseball professionally and skipping college football altogether.
After talking with his father, Dominic, Robinson wants to play college football and that would be the dream scenario – get drafted but then go on to play college football, so he could then seemingly have the best of both worlds. It’s definitely a unique and interesting situation, but counting out a baseball-only future would be unwise at this point - Gorney
Until we get a clearer picture of where Robinson is going to be drafted by MLB it’s really difficult to make a decision here, but if he goes on to play college football – which is still the expectation – I’m picking Georgia.
Lyons’ commitment to USC does not scare off Robinson from the Trojans, but it’s telling that it happened on signing day as maybe the Trojans weren’t feeling as confident on Robinson anymore and wanted to lock up a tight end in this class. USC is certainly not out of it by any means – and I really think this is a two-team race – but with Georgia’s production at the position and just how much Robinson has enjoyed being in Athens and around that team I’m picking the Dawgs. - Gorney