Get to know fifth-round pick Kenny Robinson

kenny-robinson5 (by ben queen)
Oct 28, 2017; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers safety Kenny Robinson (2) runs an interception back for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina's defensive revolution continued into the fifth round Saturday, where the Panthers used the 152nd overall pick to draft safety Kenny Robinson.

That makes a franchise-record five straight defensive players drafted by the Panthers.

Before Robinson finds his home on Thieves Ave., get to know the new defensive back.

The path less traveled

Robinson's journey to the NFL wasn't exactly a straight line.

After two standout years at West Virginia, where Robinson earned First-Team All-Big 12 honors while racking up 123 career tackles and seven interceptions, the safety ran into trouble off the field. Robinson was expelled from West Virginia for the 2019 season for a violation of the student code of conduct involving academic fraud.

"I have no problem admitting it. I cheated. I got caught," Robinson wrote in a letter for The Players' Tribune. "I made a stupid decision, and I don't have any excuses. I had the opportunity to do the right thing, and I chose to do the wrong thing. That's it. I own that."

So Robinson entered the NCAA transfer portal looking for a new home. But instead of opting to sit out a season at a new school, Robinson decided to try his luck in the XFL. The gamble worked as he was selected by the St. Louis BattleHawks with the 39th overall pick in the league's draft. Five games into the season, Robinson was making a name for himself with 21 tackles and two interceptions before the XFL folded.

Unlike other former XFL players who signed with NFL teams as free agents, Robinson became the first former XFL player to be drafted into the NFL.


Thanks to his brief but productive time in the XFL, Robinson believes he knows what it takes to succeed as a pro. While acknowledging that the NFL and the XFL are not on the same level, Robinson called himself "the most NFL-ready prospect in this draft" in that letter he wrote in the Players' Tribune. 

Whether it was the fact that he was actually playing professional football while other prospects were at the Combine, or his ability to pick the brains of former NFL players, Robinson made the most of every second he spent in the XFL to prepare himself to play at the game's highest level.

Starting early

It was clear early on that Robinson had a passion for football.

His father, Kenneth Robinson Sr., coached youth football, so Kenny was always around the game. And on his fourth birthday, he received some good news. 

"I woke him up on his fourth birthday," Robinson Sr. told the New York Post. "I said, 'Happy birthday.' His first words were, 'I can play football now?'"

View photos of Carolina's fifth-round draft pick, safety Kenny Robinson, out of West Virginia University.

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