Five-star TE Duce Robinson keeps dream of two-sport future alive

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HONOLULU — Five-star tight end Duce Robinson has gone to plenty of football camps, working out in front of college coaches and recruiting media to earn some of the dozens of offers he’s received over the past few years. But over the weekend he had a different kind of workout with perhaps even bigger stakes — in front of scouts and executives from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“It was a lot of fun,” Robinson said from the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii, where he arrived two days later than other prospects because of his time with the Dodgers. “We were able to hit on the field … did some testing and some agility testing. It was fun to get to talk to a lot of the super high-level guys in the organization and get to know them.”

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The baseball workout – alongside 15 or so other prospects – was the first Robinson has done for a professional team as he prepares himself for the 2023 MLB Draft and continues to pursue his dream of being a two-sport athlete.

Robinson’s football recruitment is down to a handful of schools and is believed to be a two-school race between Georgia and USC, with the Dawgs reportedly holding the edge just two weeks before he plans to sign on Feb. 1. But if all goes according to plan, he will not only play college football but he will also be signed to a professional baseball contract.

“Hopefully I can get drafted and then technically play college football still,” Robinson said of his plans. “It would just be as a walk-on because once you sign a professional contract you can’t go on scholarship. … But the goal is to hopefully sign professional and still be able to play college football.”

Robinson has said all of the schools he’s still considering are on board with the unorthodox plan, which has been made easier due to the recent name, image and likeness (NIL) rules in college sports.

The bigger questions now are: Will a professional baseball team sign off on one of its prized prospects moonlighting as a high-level football player? And is Robinson a lock to go high in the MLB Draft? Answers should come as the calendar moves along in 2023 and Robinson does more workouts in front of MLB clubs. Robinson said if he doesn’t get drafted high in baseball he’s likely to play both college football and baseball at the school of his choice.

“Hopefully, we could figure out a way to work it out with both sides to where we can figure out what days I need to do football and what days I need to do baseball,” he said. “Honestly, like the same way if I played both in college, it would just most likely be in different locations.”

As far as his football recruitment, Robinson says he still hasn’t made up his mind, and while he would like to take more visits before announcing on Feb. 1 it’s going to be tough to fit into his already busy schedule.

“I’m still trying to sort everything out and figure out the best location for me,” Robinson said. “We haven’t been able to go anywhere yet, just with the scheduling and everything. We are going to see with how basketball shakes out. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get somewhere over the next couple of weeks.”

Robinson has already officially visited Georgia, Alabama, USC and Texas and took an unofficial visit to Oregon over the summer. The Dawgs appear to be the team to beat, thanks in part because of the school’s back-to-back national championships and the way tight end Brock Bowers has been featured over the past two seasons.

“Brock is a playmaker in that offense and they’re finding ways to let him make plays,” Robinson said. “His season, he was dominant and he was used all over the field, kind of like I want to be used … they’re finding ways to get him the ball and let him make the most amount of plays as possible, so it would be fun to play in that offense.”

USC is also pitching a multifaceted role for Robinson, with some time at tight end and some at wide receiver.

“At USC I would be working in multiple rooms,” he said. “I would be able to play alongside some of the best receivers in this class, some of the best quarterbacks in this class, and the first year with the Heisman Trophy winner, Caleb Williams, undoubtedly the best quarterback in college football. They would use me all over the field, they would use me kind of the same way Georgia would. Obviously in coach (Lincoln) Riley’s offense, it’s an explosive offense and they’re going to find ways to get athletes the ball in space and run after the catch.”

Because time is running out for him to take visits, Robinson’s final decision could be made after hosting schools for in-home visits over the next two weeks.

“Those are more just to get around the coaches in a non-football environment.” Robinson said. “When you’re with the coaches, it’s usually in the facilities and on campus, just being able to talk to them in the privacy of your house you kind of see a different side of the coaches. They’re pretty important, just to see how I connect with the coaches, just what they’re like as people.”

With less than two weeks until he announces his college football choice, Robinson said he’s feeling the pressure somewhat, but he’s also confident he will be comfortable with his final decision.

“It makes you think a lot a bit, because hopefully you’ll be spending the next three, three and a half years, possibility more, so you want to make sure it’s the best place for you to be successful,” he said. “But I feel like I’ve got my list narrowed down to a select few schools where I feel I can truly be successful.”

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