Penn State commit still strong

Published 1:43 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The statue of Joe Paterno may be gone from its pedestal outside Beaver Stadium on the campus of Penn State University, but not the commitment of Neiko Robinson.


Back in early June, Robinson — the recent senior-to-be cornerback and free safety who transferred from Flomaton High School to Northview so he could spend his senior season playing football with childhood friends — made a commitment to the Penn State Nittany Lions. Robinson, 5-11, 170 lbs., made the verbal commitment on the phone to new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien.

But while the events of recent months have shaken the Pennsylvania school to its core, Robinson said Monday that he is still committed to play for the Nittany Lions after his playing days at Northview are over.

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“I’m still committed,” Robinson, who plans to visit the school some time soon, said. “I think the penalties they received were unfair. No one at the school now had anything to do with it and they didn’t break any rules. It was a crime so people should go to jail. They should not penalize the football program. It’s a great school. It is just one man’s poor mistake.”

On Monday, the school was hit by the NCAA with a $60 million fine, was forced to vacate a total of 112 wins from 1998-2011, was put on a four-year postseason ban and saw their four-year scholarships get reduced. The NCAA said players may transfer and play immediately at other schools, but Penn State’s athletic department was placed on probation for five years. Late Penn State coach Joe Paterno’s record will now stand at 298-136-3 and is fifth on the FBS all-time wins list.

Robinson, who has been recruited by programs like Minnesota, FSU and UAB, said Penn State felt like the best opportunity for him to utilize his talents.

“Penn State’s a good school,” Robinson said. “They recruited me kind of hard. All of the coaches were nice guys and it seemed like they have a good system.”

Robinson said two big factors in his decision to commit to Penn State was the opportunity to play for defensive coordinator Ted Roof and the possibility of getting on the field early in his collegiate career.

“They’re some great coaches,” Robinson said. “I will be being coached by Ted Roof at the defensive back position. You know he won a championship at Auburn and they think I’m going to be good enough to play, and, obviously, everybody has to earn there spot, but they said I might be able to come in and play right away.”

After making his initial commitment to Penn State in June, Robinson said he really didn’t care about the things Penn State was being hit with.

“The school really shouldn’t be put next to Sandusky in all of that, because the football didn’t have anything to do with it,” he said. “That just made them look bad. It was one man’s poor decision. Joe Paterno took a lot of heat from that but he did what he was supposed to do, so that’s not an issue.”

During all the Penn State happenings, former PSU coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 criminal charges relating to the sexual assault of 10 boys over a 15-year period. Sandusky, 68, was convicted Friday of 45 of 48 counts related to the abuse, after two days of jury deliberation.

Penn State is scheduled to play their first game of the 2012 season Saturday, Sept. 1 at home against Ohio. Penn State will open their 2013 season Aug. 31 against Syracuse at New Medowlands Stadium.

Robinson will begin his career at Northview when they kick off their 2012 season Friday, Aug. 24 at Bay High School before playing their home opener Aug. 31 against John Paul Catholic.

Penn State will also be placed on a five-year probation period. The four-year postseason ban is the longest to be handed out by the NCAA since 1960.

Paterno previously held the record for the most major college wins of any coach in NCAA history. His amended record of 298-136-3 places him fourth among major college coaches, behind Bobby Bowden, Paul “Bear” Bryant and Pop Warner.

The Big Ten fine represents a forfeiture of Penn State’s conference postseason revenue over the next four years. Like the NCAA, the Big Ten plans to donate that money to charities who deal with child-abuse cases.

In addition to its bowl ban, Penn State is barred for four years from playing in the Big Ten championship game, should it win its division, and was officially censured.