Robinson’s big numbers added up to the biggest prize for a player in Bluegrass State prep football
Corey Robinson is swapping Lone Oak purple and gold for Troy University red, black and silver. “Troy is the place for me,” said the senior quarterback who guided the Purple Flash to the state 4-A championship game last December. “I felt really comfortable there.”
Flash Field has been his comfort zone. Nobody has lit up the scoreboard like Robinson. Nobody has even come close.
The 6-3, 195-pound teenager who accepted a football scholarship to Troy last month set a national high school record in 2007 with 91 touchdown passes in 15 games. He completed 383 of 520 passes for 5,872 yards, a state record. Only four of his passes were intercepted.
Nationally, Robinson’s completion percentage of .737 is the second best ever for a high school quarterback. He trails only Tim Couch-another Kentucky Mr. Football-who notched a .751 completion percentage in 1994 when he was at Leslie County High School. Couch starred at the University of Kentucky and was the first college player chosen in the 1999 National Football League Draft by the revived Cleveland Browns.
Robinson’s big numbers added up to the biggest prize for a player in Bluegrass State prep football.
“But I’d trade Mr. Football for a state championship in a heartbeat,” he confessed. “I’d rather throw 91 interceptions than 91 touchdown passes if it meant we get a state championship.”
Robinson said “great coaching and great teammates” made him Mr. Football. He singled out Jack Haskins, the Lone Oak head coach.
“He is a players’ coach,” Robinson explained. “He cares about all of us on and off the football field.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal named Haskins high school Coach of the Year for leading Lone Oak to 14 straight wins. The Purple Flash didn’t lose until they played powerhouse Lexington Catholic for the 4-A crown at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the University of Louisville’s home field.
“We had 5,000 or 6,000 people there,” Robinson said with a rueful smile. “We didn’t put on the show we had hoped to.”
Catholic won 49-7. “It was a fun year anyway,” Robinson said. “When we started winning, our fans really started coming to the games and supporting us.”
While the quarterback put up historic numbers, so did his team. The 2007 Purple Flash was evidently Lone Oak’s best team ever.
The Flash finished its regular season a perfect 10-0, and added a quartet of playoff victories. Before last season, Lone Oak had won just one playoff game, back in 1991.
“Every time we won, Coach Haskins would bring us back to earth,” Robinson said with a chuckle. “He’d show us what we did wrong and get us ready for the next game.”
Robinson, who wore number 5 at Lone Oak, was the third Mr. Football connected to Haskins. He was head coach at Calloway County High School when Pookie Jones was the winner in 1989. Afterwards, Haskins was an assistant coach at Paducah Tilghman, where his son, Billy Jack Haskins, was voted Mr. Football in 1992.
Jones and Haskins were also quarterbacks. Both played at UK, though Haskins transferred to Rhode Island.
Robinson attracted attention from a pair of Kentucky’s Southeastern Conference rivals—Mississippi and Mississippi State. The University of Louisville also showed interest. “But after I went to Troy for my official visit, I knew I was making the right decision to play there,” Robinson said.
The star quarterback started in football as a wide receiver in his native Jackson, Tennessee. He first strapped on a helmet and shoulder pads in the eighth grade.
“I was a little nervous because I’d never played football before,” he remembered. “I didn’t know what to expect.” “The first time I got hit was by this linebacker who was a little bit larger than the rest of us. He knocked my helmet off.” Robinson switched to quarterback after his freshman year at Lone Oak. He started for the Purple Flash his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
“To be a good player, you’ve got to be a good listener,” he said. “If you do what the coach says, you’ll be a better player and that makes the whole team better.”
Robinson said he hoped the Flash would be Kentucky’s best 4-A team in 2007. “I set two goals for myself,” he said. “I wanted to win Mr. Football, and I wanted us to win the state championship. But I’d rather have the state championship, definitely.”
About a month after the Purple Flash took home the runner-up trophy, Haskins phoned to tell Robinson he was Mr. Football. “I was sitting at the kitchen table with my dad [Kenneth Robinson],” he said. “I got pretty excited.”
“But I’ve never been an individual type of guy. I appreciated my record and the accolades, but my team means more to me. I couldn’t have won Mr. Football without our coaches and my teammates.”
He will start fresh next fall in Troy, Ala., with new teammates, the 2008 Trojans. “Do I want to play pro football? Any kid would love to play pro ball. I hope to have some good years at Troy, but the main thing is getting my degree.”
Meanwhile, his old teammates are still kidding him about his star status. He said the jokesters include Jamarielle Brown, who caught many of Robinson’s TD passes. “The other players say the next highschool they build in Lone Oak will be named after me,” he said with a
smile. “We like to clown around.”