LAWRENCE — Skill-position players throughout college football aren't typically eager to concede speed as an attribute they're bested at by any teammate.
When it comes to Kansas wide receiver Stephon Robinson, though, some Jayhawks offer that fact up unprompted.
"He's really fast. I think he might have a step on me," said senior wide receiver Kerr Johnson, a speedster in his own right. "I think the sky is the limit for him."
Told of his teammate's concession that Robinson is the faster player, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore smirked.
"Oh, he did?" Robinson said. "He's a smart man."
A bright spot last Saturday on an otherwise dark day for the program, Robinson's performance likely made a believer out of more onlookers than just Kerr.
Robinson led the Jayhawks (0-1) with four receptions in the 26-23 overtime defeat to Nicholls State, tallying 43 yards along the way. A relative unknown going into the season opener, the El Camino (Calif.) Community College transfer also had a game-changing punt block that set up a go-ahead touchdown for KU late in the fourth quarter.
And then there's this tidbit: Robinson had never even attempted a punt block before Saturday. He was given that special teams responsibility just two weeks before the opener, a show of faith from special teams coordinator Kenny Perry that the coach reiterated in a conversation just before the critical block.
"He brought me over to the sideline and he was like, coach Perry said, 'I need you to block this thing, man,' " Robinson said. "I said, 'You got it.' And I went in there and blocked it."
Speed, Robinson said, was the biggest key to the blocked punt, something he'd only ever done before while playing the "Madden NFL" video game franchise -- and, even then, only when he cheated.
Interestingly, speed wasn't always thought to be a plus-attribute for the Los Angeles native.
"It's kind of funny because throughout high school and when I first got to junior college, people called me slow," said Robinson, a former three-star recruit. "People really didn't start calling me fast 'til I got here. It's really just a big change. I was confused. Maybe it's 'cause in Cali, we're a lot faster out there."
Robinson credited strength and conditioning coach Zac Woodfin for helping him discover his newfound burst this offseason. Asked what he likes most about Robinson, fourth-year coach David Beaty replied with one word -- speed -- before saying the coaches saw that explosiveness on tape when they recruited him.
"We knew the dude could fly," Beaty said. "And he played a little bit bigger than what he is. And I like that about him. He's actually a lot stronger than you think, and he can go. He's got a great burst to him. I think that's what helped him the other night."
There's no place like home, Robinson said, but KU presented the most family-like atmosphere, so he chose the Jayhawks over offers from schools like Hawaii, New Mexico State, Middle Tennessee and a handful of eleventh-hour offers from programs Robinson didn't identify. The wide receiving corps appears particularly tight-knit.
"We're like brothers with different mothers and fathers," Robinson said. "There's no drop off anywhere. When we're talking it's like I'm talking to my own brother at home or something like that. We all enjoy each other's presence and we all want to see each other succeed."
Robinson hasn't yet had a footrace against senior wide receiver Steven Sims or freshman running back Pooka Williams -- the teammates he considers his top threats for fastest player honors -- but he's certain his speed is "up there" among the best on the team.
Sims said he's a big fan of Robinson's work ethic.
"Stephon is a hilarious guy off the field. Just a funny guy," Sims said. "I love his energy every day. He just wants to work, he loves the game of football and I can't wait to see what he does. He's a high-potential guy."
That sense of humor is likely invaluable in rock-bottom situations such as the one the Jayhawks find themselves in following the loss to the FCS-level Colonels.
Sims smiled describing how Robinson has mastered a Jalen Ramsey impersonation, lifting the Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback's sassy "you tell me" catchphrase. Kerr said his friend isn't above making random, off-the-wall noises just to be silly.
Robinson embraces his role as resident comedian.
"Yeah, I'm really goofy," Robinson said. "Like it could be a dull moment and I just bust out laughing and everyone starts laughing. I just try to enjoy every moment of every day because you never know when it could be your last. That's just how I go about life."