Originally created 12/03/99

Wolfpack receiver wins ACC rookie honors



RALEIGH, N.C. -- Going 1-for-2 isn't bad for a rookie.

North Carolina State wide receiver Koren Robinson had two goals before the season: to be named the Atlantic Coast Confer-ence rookie of the year by The As-sociated Press and to reach 1,000 yards in receptions.

Robinson, a red-shirt freshman from Belmont, was the clear-cut rookie choice. Robinson received 34 votes from the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association to beat out Maryland's Calvin McCall with 15 and Florida State's Brett Williams with six.

But he finished the season with 48 receptions for 853 yards and two touchdowns.

Early in the season Robinson didn't think he would meet either goal because Ryan Hamrick and Chris Coleman were quarterback Jamie Barnette's main targets. But he was named a starter for the Virginia game Oct. 16 after Coleman was injured the week before.

Winning the ACC rookie award "was one of my goals at the start of the season. For a minute there, I didn't think I was going to meet it," Robinson said. "It's a tremendous honor."

"The beginning of the season started real rocky for me. The first five or six games I wasn't getting the ball and when the ball did come to me I dropped it," he said. "I thought, `This year I won't be able to do anything.' Then unfortunately Ryan and Chris got hurt and I had to step up."

Despite a 47-26 loss to the Cavaliers, Robinson had four catches for 110 yards, and met the 100-yard mark in the next three games against Duke, Georgia Tech and Maryland. In all, he had a league-high six 100-yard receiving games.

As for the second goal, Robinson can be consoled to know that his 853 yards in receptions were the most ever by a freshman in ACC history. It broke the previous mark of 609 yards set by North Carolina's Octavus Barnes in 1995.

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Robinson said his best game was against Georgia Tech, when he caught an 80-yard pass for a TD. He said it felt good to play on the field with Yellow Jackets quarterback Joe Hamilton, a contender for the Heisman Trophy.

"It showed I'm a young one, but I can play," Robinson said.

But the Wolfpack's 48-21 loss to Georgia Tech made it hard for Robinson to bask in his success.

"I don't really care for individual awards. I just want to win," he said.

As a wide receiver at N.C. State, he can't avoid comparisons to Torry Holt. Holt, who now plays for the St. Louis Rams, set an ACC record with 3,379 receptions yards in his career and was named the ACC Player of the Year as a senior in 1998.

Although Robinson appreciates being likened to Holt, Robinson wants to be his own measuring stick.

"I don't want to be the next Torry Holt. I want to be the first Koren Robinson," he said.

Robinson is the second rookie of the year in a row from N.C. State. Running back Ray Robinson received last year's rookie honors.

Koren Robinson said young Wolfpack players get a chance to play.

"(The coaches) spotlight us more ... and let us show everyone what we can do," he said.

Next year will be different for everyone on the team with a new quarterback to replace the graduating Barnette and a new coach to replace Mike O'Cain, who was fired after seven seasons. Robinson said he hopes his rookie accomplishments will put him in good stead with the new team leaders.

"I showed them what I can do," he said. "For any quarterback that comes in, it says, `I can make you look good."'