It seemed to set up perfectly, like Gelen Robinson was destined to be in West Lafayette.
Since the new regime took over at Purdue, Robinson’s name toward the top of the recruiting board. It appeared the two would be a match, ever since the start.
Gelen is the son of former Purdue basketball star Glenn Robinson and would be a second-generation Boilermaker. He is one of the top prospects in the state of Indiana and could stay close to home. Not to mention his good friend from high school, David Yancey, would become his teammate.
Yet, throughout the entire recruiting process—even long before he picked Purdue on Monday afternoon—Robinson tried to downplay all the factors which made the Boilermakers seem like a flawless fit.
“I try to keep it separate, because I try to keep an open mind when picking a place go,” Robinson said during a March interview. “I want to pick the best place for me.”
So Robinson went through his recruitment. He drew interest from several Big Ten schools, received a strong pitch from Missouri and Vanderbilt, and even flirted with Illinois. In the end, he knew it would be Purdue.
Robinson kept returning to Purdue for visits, waiting for it all to feel right. He attended a basketball game in March with his father, sitting with Boiler greats like Gene Keady and Brian Cardinal. He returned again two weeks later for a spring practice, seeing the football team in action with its new coaching staff.
During the entire process, Robinson was looking for reasons why Purdue would be his own. He wasn’t going to pick it because his father, his friends, or anything else. Robinson wanted to form his own legacy.
The difference-makers for Robinson were Marcus Freeman and Jafar Williams, his two lead recruiters to Purdue. They spoke with him frequently and became regulars at Lake Central High School. They sold the promise of a program rejuvenated under Darrell Hazell’s leadership, the opportunity to see early playing time, and a top-notch education. Above all, they made him comfortable.
On his final visit, Robinson came to a Purdue camp in June and worked privately with Freeman. The Boilermakers wanted him as a linebacker and Freeman would be his coach. He was sold.
The stars were aligned for Robinson. He had every reason to be a Boilermaker, but wanted more. Freeman, Williams and the new coaching staff made it feel right.
All Gelen Robinson wanted in the right school was a place to call his own. In the end, that place was home.