BEAVERTON, Ore. -
NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson was chatting with another adoring fan Sunday at the Nike campus when one of the nation's top 150 football players interrupted.
One of the umpteenth 7-on-7 games had just finished at Nike's The Opening, arguably the nation's top prep football showcase.
"Excuse me sir, I just want to tell you I'm one of your biggest fans," he said. "But I remember Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon giving you a pretty bad time."
The Admiral, still chiseled, still 7-foot-1 and still full of good cheer, laughed out loud.
The football player was his own son Corey Robinson
n, a raw, but promising 6-foot-4 ½, 200-pound wide receiver who shares his dad's clear pitch in voice, mirth in spirit and tardy bloom in athletics.
Remember, dear old dad didn't play competitive basketball until his senior year in high school. And that was after he picked it up in junior high but quit soon after.
"I hated it at first," David said. "But I was a late bloomer, I knew I was going to probably be a 7-footer, so I stuck with it. I figured if I'm going to be playing it, I might as well be good at it."
His son has taken a similar path, but a few years earlier.
The Robinson family – Corey, 17, is the middle of three sons along with wife Valerie – has never been glued to the couch over the weekend to watch college football or the NFL.
"We've just never been a football family," David said. "(Valerie) was a huge Bears fan and my eldest son (also David) enjoyed some college football. But we just had a lot of different interests."
But Corey decided to give football a whirl his freshman season at San Antonio Christian
, a small Texas Association of Private and Parochial School (TAPPS) in San Antonio.
It definitely wasn't love at first punt, pass or kick.
In fact, Corey, who was only 5-9 at the time, considered punting the whole concept.
"I had decent hands but for the most part I hated football for the first two years," he said. "But I remembered what my dad went through. I knew, like him, I was going to get a lot taller. I mean, he's 7-1.
"So I just put my head down for the first two years and went to work. Once I got a little faster and a little more athletic then the game became more fun. That, and I started learning the game.
"Now I love the game."
He's good enough that he was offered scholarships from six schools, including Notre Dame, which he accepted on March 27. The offer was based much on potential, growth and academics – Corey sports a nifty 4.4 grade point average and wants to pursue either biology or business – more than sheer polish.
He fully admits that he's used this extravagant three-day camp to simply learn and rub shoulders with some of the nation's best.
"I'm surrounded by so many great and talented athletes and to compete against them day in and day out is really great to learn from," Corey said. "My expectation coming in was just to learn. I've never been around this much talent so I knew it was going to be rough."
Not so much rough as perhaps humbling.
Playing for the Land Sharks, quarterback Shane Morris
has looked largely for such more polished talents as wide receivers Ahmad Fulwood
and Ryan Jenkins and super tight end O.J. Howard
Fulwood (6-4, 200) and Howard (6-6, 221) are both ranked No. 1 at their positions nationally by MaxPreps.com.
"I just wanted to show I could compete with these guys and keep up," he said. "I feel like I'm doing OK. Pretty decent. Not great, but those (cornerbacks) are incredible."
David said his son is being a little modest.
"He's the type of kid who will figure it all out," David said. "He's an over-achiever. He's diligent and figures things out. He's a great kid. I'm very proud of him."
And with a supportive dad – and mom – Corey knows he has a good thing. Well, it's a little better than good.
"It's nice to have a Hall of Fame dad to talk to about athletic things," Corey said. "Even though he didn't play football, he knows how to use his body, how to block out and of course, how to conduct yourself with people and teammates and coaches."
But there is a large burden to carry being the son of a Hall of Famer. Corey says it pales in comparison to all the perks. He plays on the high school basketball team – he won't pursue two sports at Notre Dame, especially not with a double major.
His other favorite sports, he says, are tennis, soccer and volleyball.
Obviously, Corey isn't exactly mainstream.
"Being David Robinson's son, people expect you to play basketball," Corey said. "And every time you perform you have to prove yourself and that I'm not given anything. "
He is given some pretty funny looks when he tells strangers – such as most of the players at The Opening – that he's the son of THAT David Robinson.
"Sometimes they don't believe and then when my dad shows up, they'll be like, ‘you weren't lying,' " Corey said. "It's pretty funny to see people's reaction."
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