9:09 PMLSU recruited him to play quarterback, while the reigning national champions at Alabama had visions of him roaming their defensive secondary.
But with major FBS programs knocking at his door, Maurice Robinson opted to play football next season at a historically black institution: Grambling.
After verbally committing to the Tigers two weeks ago, Robinson made it official during Wednesday’s national signing day.
Robinson will play in the defensive backfield at Grambling despite the fact that he threw for 1,686 yards and 18 touchdowns last season at Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama. The three-star recruit is a big get for Grambling, which looks to improve from last year’s 11-2 record, which included a trip to the Celebration Bowl (where the Tigers lost to North Carolina A&T).
Some of the other commitments to Grambling that were made official Wednesday:
Sundiata Anderson, 6-4, defensive end, Atlanta, Georgia: A three-sport athlete at North Clayton High School, Anderson was a first-team all-county player and earned a spot on the All-Region 4-AAAA team.
T.J. Hawthorne, 6-2, defensive back, Springhill, Louisiana: Hawthorne will play safety at Grambling after a career at North Webster High School where he earned all-district honors while playing running back, wide receiver and defensive back.
Matthew Cormier, 6-3, linebacker, Lake Charles, Louisiana: Another recruit staying close to home, Cormier is a hard-hitting linebacker who was a first team all-district selection.
Keilon Elder, 5-9, running back, Duncanville, Texas: Elder rushed for 1,300 yards and scored 17 touchdowns in his final season at Duncanville High School. He’ll be a legacy student at Grambling, where his father, Ray Elder, played tailback from 1989-93.
NORTH CAROLINA A&T
North Carolina A&T University, the Celebration Bowl champions, appear to have added enough firepower to keep them in the mix in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) next season.
Darius Graves, 5-8, running back, Greensboro, North Carolina: Graves was expected to be a contributor at the University of North Carolina last year after the walk-on led all rushers in the spring game. But he didn’t suit up last season in Chapel Hill and now resurfaces with the Aggies.
Wiz Vaughn, 5-10, wide receiver, Wilmington, North Carolina: Definitely an early pick for the all-name team, Vaughn was a dual threat on offense at New Hanover High School, as he caught 97 passes for 1,487 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed 87 times for 737 yards and 17 touchdowns. He helped lead New Hanover to the Class 3-A state championship game.
Chris Williams, 6-1, linebacker, Laurinburg, North Carolina: A standout defensive player at Scotland County High School, Williams — along with Georgia-bound running back Zamir White, a five-star recruit — helped lead his team to a 12-2 record and a spot in the 4A state championship game. Williams was named the team’s defensive MVP.
Tim Williams, 6-3, offensive lineman, Laurinburg, North Carolina: Yes, Tim and Chris Williams are brothers. Twin brothers. Tim Williams, who weighs 300 pounds, opened up many of the holes that White, the nation’s top running back recruit, ran through.
Coach Mike London has added a few pieces that should complement quarterback Caylin Newton, who led the Bison to a second-place finish in the MEAC.
Jalen Smith, 6-1, defensive back/wide receiver, Virginia Beach, Virginia: Depending on where he plays, Smith might emerge as a new target for Newton. A star at Ocean Lakes High School, Smith is rated as the No. 14 player in the state. Smith had verbally committed to Navy in the fall before announcing that he’s attending Howard.
Jayde Pierre, 6-2, defensive/offensive line, Sterling, Virginia: Pierre was an early commit to Temple and had interest from Arizona and Boston College. But the 310-pound Pierre decided to stay close to his home in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, where he played at Dominion High School. 247Sports.com had Pierre ranked No. 33 in Virginia.
Here’s how some of the African-American head coaches in Division I have fared on national signing day:
David Shaw, Stanford: Shaw was able to sign Tanner McKee, one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, who chose Stanford over Alabama and Texas. But he won’t get the 6-6 McKee immediately, as the devout Mormon will take a two-year mission before attending Stanford in 2020.
James Franklin, Penn State: A program nearly destroyed by the Jerry Sandusky scandal in 2011 has finished in the top 10 the past two years and just came through with one of the top five recruiting classes. Signees include linebacker Micah Parsons (considered the top recruit in Pennsylvania, and a top-10 national recruit from Harrisburg High School), Justin Shorter (the nation’s top-ranked wide receiver, from South Brunswick High School in New Jersey) and Ricky Slade (a five-star all-purpose back from Hylton High School in Virginia).