GAINESVILLE -- The Demarcus Robinson hype-train is rapidly approaching maximum velocity.
The 6-2, 201-pound receiver is just a freshman, yet Robinson already has been tabbed Florida’s savior at a position starved for playmakers.
Good luck, kid.
“I’m not appointing him the greatest thing on Earth yet because he’s got to play a game,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “But I know he’s worked at his skill, and I think he’s understanding what his opportunity and job is on each play.”
Robinson, who enrolled early in school in January, has starred in both spring and fall practices, electrifying teammates, coaches and fans with his physical frame and downfield explosiveness.
Expectations were already high for Robinson, a four-star prospect from Peach County (Ga.). Now they are getting higher.
All-Southeastern Conference cornerback Marcus Roberson called Robinson the greatest freshman wideout he ever has played against.
“He’s the best I’ve seen in person,” said Roberson, a junior. “The sky is the limit for him. His game has elevated as camp went on.”
Robinson torched UF’s first-team cornerback during one practice this fall, wowing those in attendance with a brilliant one-handed grab over Roberson for a touchdown.
According to the coaching staff, that has been a daily occurrence.
“He’s just got instincts in running routes,” coach Will Muschamp said. “He’s been pretty consistently making some vertical plays for us down the field.”
Pease has done little to temper his praise, likening Robinson’s talent to Austin Pettis — the St. Louis Rams’ third-round pick in 2011 — but only better.
“[Robinson] probably has a lot more speed and athleticism,” Pease said.
Pettis played under Pease — then a wide receivers coach — for four years at Boise State, setting school records in catches (229) and touchdowns (39).
Although Muschamp called Robinson “a positive for our offense,” and Pease gushed over his “great hands,” it remains to be seen how much of an impact Robinson makes in Saturday’s season opener against Toledo.
Robinson’s steady progress has allowed cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy to remain mainly on defense, but the wideout isn’t a starter yet — albeit in name only — and freshman receivers — even ballyhooed prospects — haven’t found success at UF in more than five seasons.
Percy Harvin’s 2006 season — 34 catches, 41 rushes, five total touchdowns — stands as an outlier; freshmen Andre Debose, Quinton Dunbar, Deonte Thompson and Omarius Hines all redshirted, while Robert Clark (2010) and Latroy Pittman (2012) combined for just nine receptions.
But the historical data seem irrelevant to Robinson’s teammates, as they continue to laud the freshman’s skill-set and ability to produce immediately.
“He’s special,” Dunbar said. “He could be great.”