The Panthers have selected safety Kenny Robinson out of West Virginia with the 152nd pick in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Robinson has taken a circuitous route to the NFL. He was expelled from West Virginia for a student code of conduct violation involving academic fraud before the 2019 season. He entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal but then decided to play in the XFL.
The cornerback wrote an open letter to NFL general managers in The Players' Tribune, and addressed the expulsion head on. He said he felt it was important to do so to take accountability.
"I own up to my mistakes. I know it was a mistake but I learned from it," Robinson said Saturday, adding he wrote the letter to show he's moving on and becoming a better person.
He was drafted by the St. Louis Battlehawks and recorded a pair of interceptions with 21 tackles while starting all five games for the club.
"It was a long process just trying to figure out what was the best decision for me and my family," Robinson said of the choice to head to the XFL. "Once I made that decision, I knew the XFL benefitted me in so many ways — just preparing me to be a professional. I was a professional football player for a few months before anyone else could be."
During his two seasons at West Virginia, Robinson recorded seven interceptions in 23 games — two of which were returned for touchdowns. He began his college career as a cornerback before becoming a safety. He also had seven passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Through it all, from West Virginia to the XFL and now to Carolina, Robinson was confident it wasn't a matter of if he'd make it to the NFL, but when.
"I never lost faith in myself. I always felt in my whole life that I would be an NFL talent," Robinson said. "I never gave up on that dream. I always felt like I was going to get there, it was just going to be when I got there."
Now Robinson, a self-proclaimed ballhawk, will get the chance.
View photos of Carolina's fifth-round draft pick, safety Kenny Robinson, out of West Virginia University.