Duce Robinson-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
5-star Arizona TE Duce Robinson is the nation's top-rated prospect at his position for 2023 and he has yet to make his college decision. Georgia has a strong chance here. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)

Duce Robinson: The ‘very underrated’ family connection to the Georgia football program

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest with 5-star prospect Duce Robinson. He ranks as the nation’s No. 1 TE and the No. 17 overall prospect for 2024 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.

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PHOENIX, Ariz. - Go scan the recruiting rankings for the 2023 class on any of the national recruiting websites.

The traditional National Signing Day for the 2023 class has come and gone. Everyone has signed. Except for one name right at the very top.

That’s 5-star Duce Robinson.

Robinson spoke to DawgNation earlier this week and he flatly laid out that his dream remains to play both pro baseball and pro football.

He wasn’t given the name “Duce” because he aims to play both sports. Yet maybe some whiz marketing team will probably build a campaign around it someday.

“The plan is to play college football,” Robinson said earlier this week. “The goal is obviously to get drafted in the MLB Draft but our plan is to play college football along with that.”

Georgia remains a strong contender in the race for the football part of that. There’s no timetable for when he might commit.

Or even sign. And yet there is a very strong connection to one specific coach in Athens that we will chronicle later on down the page.

There was one person in Arizona this week that theorized Robinson might become the highest-paid preferred walk-on in college football history. That’s what he could potentially do this summer if he gets drafted high enough and becomes a professional baseball player.

The feeling here is that the smart thing to do for Robinson is to wait. Wait and see what the pro baseball scouts think about him in the spring. Will his stock continue to rise?

There are a few schools of thought to pay attention to here:

  • The way pro baseball evaluation is structured these days is that major league clubs must absolutely hit on the prospects they draft in the first three rounds. There is a pool of bonus money allocated to those picks. Teams operate under the premise that those must be no-doubt talent acquisitions. Those picks must be “can’t-miss” guys.
  • Robinson’s rankings right now are rising, but there is no consensus scouting opinion to go off of here. He’s seen as a top 100 pick to some, but maybe a top 200 guy to others. The big thing is that scouts aren’t as familiar with Robinson as they are with other top 200 prospects.
  • Scouting opinions will vary but there’s a clear underlying message: Robinson’s rankings based on his immense ceiling and talent would be a lot higher if he was a baseball-only prospect set to work on his path to the big leagues on a full-time basis.
  • That said, that is not the dream. Will a major league club draft him high enough to buy him out of that dream? That doesn’t seem likely. At least not yet. But watching Robinson take swings in the cage at length offers a window into an undeniable talent.
  • There are the easy (and maybe lazy) comparisons to current MLB great Aaron Judge. Could he develop into a Judge-type bat at the top of the lineup? There’s a logical opinion that while both are great athletes with immense size and power, Robinson is a better athlete. That’s why he’s rated so highly as a 5-star football prospect. His hips are much looser at this stage than what Judge was at the same age. Or even now.
  • Perhaps a better scouting comparison would be found on the Pittsburgh Pirates. That would be the 6-foot-7 shortstop O’Neill Cruz. DawgNation has heard a couple of opinions of late that Robinson’s projection might be more along those lines. Just a very rare talent that we haven’t seen in the majors very much up to this point given his size, power potential, speed and overall athleticism. Keep in mind that Robinson returned punts at 6 feet, 6 inches this past fall for Pinnacle High in Arizona.

If one feels this narrative is going too far into the baseball aspect, that’s probably right. But this is a unique story and a complex decision. It is unlike anything we’ve seen when it comes to college football recruiting.

This recruiting process is not so much a Georgia vs. the college football elites like Oregon, Texas and USC here.

It is a duality at work. We also must factor in how heavily professional baseball wants to get involved.

There are the big league signing bonus dollars to think about, but college football has an equalizer with NIL options these days. It is no longer a no-brainer for two-sport high school prospects to always choose the baseball money first and then come back to college football as a Plan B option.

And while Georgia is a team that prefers its NIL options to go to established players, that option remains something to consider in this unique case.

Robinson has said his college football decision will not be based on NIL multiple times. So while it might be a factor to consider, it is not expected to move the dial either way in a major fashion.

DawgNation has invested time in Arizona this week to follow this developing story. There was one thing we learned about Georgia’s chances that should keep them firmly in the picture here.

That would be the connection between Kirby Smart and Duce’s father. Dominic Robinson was a 5-star football prospect coming out of California in 2001.

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