As per tradition, I’m spending the offseason working my way through the upcoming recruiting class. I’ll be taking a look at the tape of our current Class of 2024 commitments, getting a feel for their skills and talent, and assessing where they might fit on our roster. You can my find other 2024 UW recruiting profiles here.
Like last June’s commitment from Anthony James, 4-star WR Jason Robinson Jr.’s commitment opened the floodgates on a slew of c/o 2024 commitments to the Dawgs. Also like James, Robinson joins the Huskies as one of our most talented and vocal leaders within the class. Hailing out of SoCal’s well-known Long Beach Poly program, Robinson is an electric playmaker with high upside and an explosiveness that earned him looks from national recruiting programs like USC, Penn State, Georgia, and Notre Dame.
The first thing that stands out in Robinson’s tape are his movement skills. You might be thinking, “well duh. WRs should move well.” However, what makes Robinson such an interesting addition to the WR room is how he moves differently than the rest of our room. All of our WRs have speed, but Robinson is “sudden”. He is explosive and has speed to beat coverage vertically, but his stop-start acceleration and “turn on a dime” agility brings a different dynamic to the position group. Robinson’s electric with the ball in his hand and will make people miss in the open field.
Before we go too much further, as a UW fan, I can imagine a few eye rolls with my last comment. For the last 5 or 6 years, whenever we hear about a shorter/smaller WR with speed and can YAC ability, we often hear/give comparisons to Chico McClatcher (or someone similar). A gadget type of role player who can’t quite take the next step to be a true go-to option at WR and needs to get manufactured touches. That’s not Robinson.
Sure, it’s just a fact that when he arrives on campus in ‘24, Robinson will be one of only 2 scholarship WRs under 6’0”, and sure, the other is Keith Reynolds, who I did compare to McClatcher last year because of his use as a RB in HS. However, I see shades of former Husky WR John Ross in Robinson.
A John Ross comp might be a tad optimistic, but it felt right because of how Robinson uses his speed, acceleration, and agility within his style of play. Robinson isn’t a sub 4.3 kind of runner like Ross, but his speed is undeniable on tape (probably close to his self-reported 4.5 40 time), and he’s a pure WR. High-level WR play isn’t about beating the coverage in a foot race. It’s about creating separation. Like Ross, Robinson uses his burst, selective use of speed, and shifty footwork to generate separation off the line and out of breaks. You can’t jam what you can’t touch (see Ross vs. Adoree Jackson), and like Ross, Robinson’s refined footwork on releases allows him to play on the outside despite his size.
Outside of his movement skills and nuanced route running, Robinson has a solid foundation to build off of when it comes to the other technical aspects of the position. He has good spatial awareness and a feel for a defense’s zone coverage that shows itself when he sits in gaps in the zone, and he does a good job playing near the sideline. Not to mention that Robinson also does a good job in catching the ball away from his body and high points passes better than many WRs much taller than him.
Looking ahead to Robinson’s fit on the roster, we’ll have ton of snaps open for grabs early in his career with Odunze, McMillan, and Jackson all likely departing after the 2023 season. Polk and Bernard are likely to be near the top of the depth chart, but Robinson’s speed will be tough to keep off the field if he can add some weight between now and his first season. He won’t be forced onto the field if he isn’t ready since we also have guys like Boston, Lyons, and Willams all projected to be ahead of him, but he’d bring some extra juice to the perimeter where any secondary’s worst nightmare is a boundary WR that you need to bracket.