St. Louis BattleHawks safety Kenny Robinson has been selected in the 5th round by the Carolina Panthers with the 152nd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Robinson, only 21 years old, has been considered a trailblazer of sorts. He was the only player in the XFL during the 2020 season that still had college eligibility remaining. Robinson previously attended West Virginia University where he was an All-Big 12 safety for the Mountaineers in 2018 before being dismissed from the team after his sophomore season due to an academic violation. He then entered the XFL to continue playing football while trying to get to the NFL. Then during Phase 4 where defensive backs were drafted in the XFL, the St. Louis BattleHawks took Robinson with their 5th pick of the phase (39th overall).
Kenny Robinson’s journey started at Imani Christian Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. There, Robinson was an All-State and All-Conference defensive back and was named the WPIAL A Defensive Player of the Year. Robinson was ranked a three-star recruit by Rivals and hauled in offers from the likes of West Virginia, Louisville, Iowa State, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh before choosing the Mountaineers. Robinson made his impact at WVU right away, playing in all 13 of the Mountaineers games in 2017 during his freshman year which included eight starts. He was the sixth leading tackler for WVU with 46, had three pass breakups, and tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, two of which were returned for touchdowns. His performance that season earned him an All-Big 12 Conference Honorable Mention.
Robinson would only get better, as the 2018 season was quite the year for himself. He started 12 games at safety where he would be tied for second in the Big 12 in interceptions with four, second on West Virginia in tackles with 77, and tied for third on the team in pass breakups with four. Robinson’s outstanding sophomore year earned him All-Big 12 First Team honors as West Virginia went 8-3 and were ranked as high as sixth in the nation during the 2018 season. According to Pro Football Focus, Robinson was the toughest safety for teams to pass against in the Big 12 during the 2018 campaign. But the summer before the 2019 season, it was announced that Kenny Robinson was entering the transfer portal due to a situation involving West Virginia’s student code of conduct where it was found out Robinson committed an academic violation and was dismissed from the team.
Despite entering the transfer portal, Robinson would still be unable to transfer because transfers must be in good academic standing to be able to transfer which Robinson was not. Robinson seemed stuck, as he could not play college football in the fall of 2019. His mother, who was battling cancer, wanted her son to return to school as soon as possible. But Robinson felt his mother and the family needed help and support financially. So, after learning about the XFL, he entered their draft pool where he was selected 39th overall by the St. Louis BattleHawks in the defensive back part of the draft as the XFL Draft was done by position.
After going through the initial training camp, Kenny Robinson was immediately slotted in as the starting free safety for the BattleHawks. In the five games of the now cancelled XFL season, Robinson had 21 tackles, one sack, two passes defended, and two interceptions which was tied for second in the XFL. Robinson showed an ability to play a high level of football against guys that were previously in the NFL and showed that he is still the same gifted safety that everyone saw in two seasons at West Virginia. He showed NFL scouts his abilities and now has been rewarded by reaching his dream of being drafted in the NFL. Robinson has truly become a pioneer for the game of football and could leave a lasting impact on how we remember the now defunct XFL.