With two games left to be played this season, Korey Robertson is drawing closer to putting together one of the best seasons by a receiver in Southern Miss history.
While other Golden Eagles have put up big numbers by outrunning defensive backs and flashing great hands, Robertson brings a whole new aspect to the position.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound redshirt junior has been running over defensive backs and easily working through attempted tackles. It's not unusual for a defensive back to step to the side and make a feeble reach at Robertson as he barrels his way down the field.
As USM quarterback Kwadra Griggs put it, “I've never seen just one guy take him down.”
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Griggs should know. He and Robertson played together when they were teammates at Greenwood High School.
It hasn't mattered who has been at quarterback this season for the Golden Eagles. Robertson has become the main target of the USM passing game.
He has 65 catches for 952 yards and 10 touchdowns this year, showing the ability to turn to a short toss into a big gainer or go high above corners for the deep toss.
Robertson's power has gained the respect of teammates and opponents alike.
“Korey is very, very strong,” USM senior safety Jomez Applewhite said. “We've got a nickname for him, we call him 'D-Block.' When I first saw him I thought he was a defensive end or something. It's kind of tough bringing him down.”
USM defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro would be perfectly fine with Robertson lining up on his side of the ball.
“He's an animal,” Pecoraro said. “It's been fun to watch him. He's done an unbelievable job. I'm very glad he's a Golden Eagle, I can promise you that.
“He looks like an outside linebacker. That's how big he is. In fact, we'd take him at outside linebacker if he wanted to come over. He's big, goes up and gets the ball. When he gets it, he breaks tackles and runs away from people. He's a big time receiver.”
Robertson has already moved into USM's top five in single-season receptions at No. 5. With a big finish, he can draw close to Casey Martin's school record of 80 receptions from the 2015 campaign.
Tracking down Mike Thomas's USM record of 1,391 yards is unlikely, but Robertson has a good chance to surpass the No. 2 man on that list – Sherrod Gideon, who had 1,186 yards in 1998.
Thomas also holds the single-season record for touchdown receptions with 14 – a number not entirely out of reach for Robertson.
Robertson showed plenty of potential through his first two seasons, catching a total of 51 passes for 637 yards and six touchdowns, but he has hit an all new level this season and should be drawing the attention of NFL scouts. He has been at his best late in the season, catching 37 passes for 564 catches and three touchdowns over the last five games.
“He's tough,” head coach Jay Hopson said. “He's really had a lot of yards after catch. He's such a big, physical guy. He's a guy that's a gamer and he comes to play every Saturday.”
Who: Southern Miss vs. Marshall
When: 1:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Huntington, W.Va.
Radio: WBUV 104.9-FM