Wan’Dale Robinson has a little wiggle in his game. Kentucky’s football-watching audience has known that since he was a star at Western Hills High School. “Wiggle” is a concept that’s difficult to quantify, until now.
The fine folks at Pro Football Focus are the nerdiest nerds in the history of football nerds. Thanks to their diligent work, we have infinitely more information to work with when analyzing a player’s game. This is clearly evident in PFF’s College Football Preview Magazine. Here’s just a snippet of what they had to say about UK’s top offensive playmaker and how he could impact Kentucky’s offense:
Dynamic weapon Wan’Dale Robinson is a massive addition to the Wildcats’ offense, as he is a proven weapon as a ball- carrier and an even better receiver. Over the past two years at Nebraska, the 5-foot-10 receiver has produced an 87.2 receiving grade and hauled in 10 of his 12 contested opportunities. On underneath targets, he has averaged over nine yards after the catch while breaking 11 tackles on 57 receptions. Robinson also boasts some impressive wheels, makes crisp cuts and is unafraid of taking shots over the middle of the field. He went from taking 46% of his passing snaps from the slot in 2019 at Nebraska to 71.8% in 2020. With Kentucky this fall, that is expected to rise even higher as he tries to develop his receiving skills even further in this pro-style offense.
Robinson catches contested balls when they are thrown his way. Boasting a 1.9% drop rate, Robinson ranks among the top 20 receivers in college football. To put it plainly, if the ball is thrown his direction, it’s not hitting the turf.
Once he catches the pass, Robinson can make opponents miss. His 13 broken tackles in 2020 rank in the top 20 nationally among wide receivers. During his two-year career he caught more than half of his passes in traffic on underneath routes. What’s remarkable is that he broke tackles on 20% of those receptions and on average picked up just shy of a first down.
While not always a fair comparison, Robinson is similar to Lynn Bowden, an agile athlete that turns short gains into explosive plays, rather than by simply running past defenders on go routes (with one awesome exception at Florida in 2018). Liam Coen is still looking for a wide receiver that can take the top off of a defense. If UK finds that long-ball pass catcher, it will free up Robinson and Josh Ali to get their bread where it’s buttered, underneath the defense.
Kentucky’s passing offense has been one of the most inefficient in America. That can change with a little extra YAC and wiggle from Robinson and Ali in 2021.