One of the most exciting player in training camp for the New York Giants is rookie wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. The second-round pick recently chatted exclusively with Big Blue View.
The results of my chat with Robinson are below, with my questions paraphrased. Click the player below to listen to the full podcast, including the interview with Robinson.
Do you take all of the attention you have gotten from the Giants’ coaching staff as a positive?
Wan’Dale: “Definitely. They really just want me to do everything I can to help our offense. Each and every day I’m just trying to prove that I can handle it and understand everything that they’re putting on my plate. Just trying to do the best I can each and every day and just get better.”
What was your reaction to some of the negativity when the Giants selected you No. 43 overall?
Wan’Dale: “That’s for everybody else to have their own opinion. I didn’t want to look at it too much. At the end of the day they brought me here to do a job and help our football team and help this offense, so I just want to continue to come out every day and just do what I’m supposed to do. I don’t want to get caught up in what the fans thought of the pick or anything like that. I just want to go out there and do my job.”
You have been doubted very step of the way. How do you deal with that?
Wan’Dale: “It’s nothing new to me. I’m just going to continue to go out there and work and just do everything I can do to be myself and be the best football player I can be.”
How did your dad’s story shape you as a person and as a football player?
[NOTE: Wan’Dale’s father, Dale Robinson, spent much of Wan’Dale’s childhood imprisoned on drug offenses.]
Wan’Dale: “As a person I just got to see the bad side of the path that I could go down and really just see the mistakes that my dad made. It just allowed me to not make those mistakes as I was going through my life and growing up, just thinking about those decisions that he made and if anything like that would be around me I would have to make a different decision.
“On the football field we’ve always been the same with everything that he’s always told me, my mindset and everything like that hasn’t changed since I was 5.”
What about the Wanda Joyce Robinson Foundation run by Wan’Dale and his father?
Wan’Dale: “It helps kids who have parents that were or still are incarcerated. Really just showing kids similar to me and my older brother and my little sister that there’s a way that you can make it out and you don’t have to go down the same path as your parents and make the same mistakes, and just show that there’s other outlets of being able to do different things — if that’s sports, art, music, whatever it may be. Just showing kids that you can do whatever you want to do and feel like they’re wanted and feel accomplished.”
The foundation is named after your grandmother. How significant is that for you?
Wan’Dale: “I never actually got to meet my grandmother. That’s who I’m named after, though. That’s my grandmother’s name, my dad’s name and they combined it. Just knowing how she was and all the stories I’ve heard about her she was just always giving as a person. It was just right to name the foundation after her.”
How do you carry your dad’s football-related message — no matter who you are playing against, you always have to believe you are the best player on the field?
Wan’Dale: “It’s not really a cockiness thing of feeling that I’m the best. It’s just kind of a mindset, just really feeling like I can go out there and dominate each and every play. That’s something that hasn’t changed with me at all. Like I said, not trying to be cocky or anything it’s just a mindset I feel like you have to have, especially smaller guys like me just thinking that you’re the best just so you can go out there and compete at your highest level.”
Do you recognize the name DaQuan Edwards?
Robinson laughs heartily hearing the name. By way of explanation, Robinson played tackle football in Kentucky at the age of 5 under the name of DaQuan Edwards. His father didn’t want him playing flag football, so he obtained the birth certificate of a child who was old enough to play and signed Wan’Dale up under that name.
Wan’Dale: “That was my name when I was 5.”
What did you learn from being DaQuan Edwards for a year?
Wan’Dale: “I don’t remember a whole lot about the year, but that was my first year playing football and I would just say that’s where my toughness started from, just being the youngest one out there on the field and going out there and being hit by older guys ... I played against guys that were like four years older than me. I think it was a good thing for me. I don’t think I’d be the way I am now without that kind of experience right there when I started early.”
Let’s talk about how you started training in Kentucky with Chris Vaughn.
[NOTE: Vaughn trains a number of top athletes in Kentucky. He told me in the spring that after Wan’Dale’s first day working with him he didn’t think he would ever see the young man again. Robinson, though, surprised him and kept showing up.]
Wan’Dale: “That gym [Aspirations Fitness Institution] is full with guys that are going to Division I schools and things like that ... I just remember it was really my first time around guys that had [collegiate] offers and things like that. I knew that if I really wanted to do it I was gonna have to keep going and continue to get better and I just knew that this was only going to help me get better at the end of the day.
“Chris is a big part of why I’m here, too, with helping me with that toughness thing, just getting my game to the next level.”
Giants’ “very clear vision” for him? Are you seeing that vision and do you like it?
Wan’Dale: “I love it. I think I’m with two of the best, Coach Kaf [Mike Kafka] and Coach Daboll, with calling plays and their minds, so I was just really happy to be involved with those two ... I definitely think they’re going to put me in the best position to succeed.”
What are your thoughts on Kadarius Toney? What can you learn from his rookie year?
Wan’Dale: “At the end of the day you want your playmakers to have the ball in space and honestly he’s showed that he’s really, really good in space with the ball. Really each and every day we’re just kind of talking and seeing everything that we’re seeing with each other. Some of the routes that we’re running right now are kinda similar ... He’s a really good dude and everything that he does he does it really fast, extremely twitchy.
“KT’s done everything that I feel like he’s supposed to do and just been really good for us.”
How did playing both running back and receiver in college help you prepare for your role with the Giants?
Wan’Dale: “Some of the practices here I lined up in the backfield just going back to that stuff I did at Nebraska, and I’m doing stuff that I did at Kentucky, so it’s really like a mixture of everything. It’s been really good just to know that all the stuff I did in college has really got me prepared for this point.”