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Kenny Robinson Jr. Takes XFL Route to Reach NFL



PITTSBURGH — Local football product, Kenny Robinson Jr., will be headed to St. Louis, Missouri, to start his XFL career.

Robinson Jr. was drafted by the St. Louis BattleHawks with the No. 39 pick in the first ever XFL Draft. He will likely be the BattleHawks starting safety when the XFL kicks off their season in February.

Robinson Jr., who played two years at West Virginia University, is from Wilkinsburg, PA, and was a standout in the WPIAL his senior year at Imani Christian Academy.

Before heading to Imani Christian, Robinson Jr. transferred from University Prep after a leg injury that he suffered his junior season. During his season year, Robinson Jr. was named PIAA all-state 1A first team, as a defensive back.

When Robinson Jr. got to West Virginia, he jumped right into the mix of college football. He played in all 13 of the Mountaineers games his freshman season and got the starting nod eight times. As a safety, Robinson Jr. was named All-Big 12 Conference Honorable Mention his freshman season.

During his sophomore season, Robinson Jr. was looking to make a name for himself — and he did just that.

While starting 12 games at safety for the Mountaineers, Robinson Jr. was an All-Big 12 first-team selection collecting 4 interceptions, and ranked No. 2 on the West Virginia defense with 77 total tackles and 52 solo tackles.

After his standout sophomore year with the Mountaineers, Robinson Jr. put his name in the NCAA transfer portal. He was in the middle of a conduct violation involving academic fraud that had him essentially removed from West Virginia.

Instead of going through the hardships of the NCAA, and dealing with the academic and eligibility rules, he then started to hear about the XFL and how it might be an easier route at reaching his dream of making it to the NFL.

“The XFL was just the best choice for me,” Robinson Jr. said. “With all the things I had going on in my life, the XFL gave me an opportunity to help out with things going on at home and I could still get an education and be able to play football.”

The XFL is a professional football league that is backed by the WWE. The XFL has an average salary of $55,000. This is a path that no one in college football has taken before Robinson. Instead of staying in school another year to try and raise his stock, he will try going the professional route.

“Regardless, I would have been able to reach my goal of the NFL in the same amount of time (if i was at WVU for another year,” Robinson Jr. said.

The NFL requires that you must be out of high school for at least three years before you can put your name in the draft. The XFL gives Robinson Jr. an extra year to get paid, as well as get the experience of playing against pros for an entire year before trying to make an NFL roster.

Robinson’s transition to the XFL is unique because he was the first player with college eligibility still remaining to enter the XFL draft pool.

Robinson Jr. thinks that he may have started a trend for other young football players to take the same route (to the XFL) that he has.

“I do think (other) people will start to go the XFL route,” Robinson Jr. said. “Everyone is different and now this alternative route gives you a way to put things in your own hands – Instead of some of the universities that don’t always care for your best interests.”

Robinson Jr. knows where he wants to go in his football life, but he isn’t going to put his academics on pause.

“I still plan on getting a degree,” Robinson Jr. “The XFL blessed me by paying for me to take courses somewhere else and finish out school.”

Robinson Jr. will now be training and preparing to raise his draft stock and win some more football games, before he goes all in on his dream of making it in the NFL.

The XFL opens Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. The regular season will last 10 weeks, through April 12.

Two playoff games are scheduled for April 18 and April 19, with its championship game on April 26. The full XFL schedule has yet to be released.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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