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Robinson going pro
Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Declaring himself physically and mentally ready for a new challenge, North Carolina State sophomore wide receiver Koren Robinson said Thursday he would enter the NFL draft.

The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder from Belmont caught 62 passes for 1,061 yards this season, and his 15 100-yard receiving games set a Wolfpack record.

"This is a great opportunity for me and my family," Robinson said. "This has been a dream of mine ever since I was young. My family has supported me all through my life regardless of what decisions I made and the benefits from this decision will give me an opportunity to give back to them."

Robinson believed his pro stock likely rose following an outstanding game in the Micronpc.com Bowl in which he had 157 receiving yards and 151 more on kickoff returns.

"I was thinking this the whole year, but after the bowl game I was like, `I can do this, I'm ready,"' Robinson said. "That just showed NFL scouts that I do have the talent to play at the next level."

Robinson called coach Chuck Amato on Tuesday to inform him of his decision to leave school two years early and enter the April draft. Amato didn't try to talk him out of his decision, he said.

"He backed me 100 percent," Robinson said. "He said, `Keep your head on straight and do what you're capable of doing.' He's in my corner."

Amato, who was returning from the Orange Bowl, didn't attend Robinson's news conference. He did issue a statement about his star receiver who, at times, was at odds with Amato this season.

Robinson was suspended twice in 2000 for violating team academic rules -- one quarter at Maryland and the first half of the regular-season finale against Wake Forest.

"Koren has great athletic skills and we'll miss him dearly at North Carolina State University," Amato said.

Robinson said academics played a small role in his decision to turn pro. "One of my goals and dreams is to come back and finish college," he said.

Robinson said he would be disappointed if he wasn't taken high in the first round of the draft. His 4.3-speed in the 40-yard dash, his size, and ability to return punts and kickoffs should make Robinson an attractive pick for most NFL teams.

"The (returns) may help me get looked at before other receivers on the board in the draft, because of the versatility," Robinson said.

Robinson follows in a long line of great Wolfpack receivers that included Torry Holt, Mike Quick and Haywood Jeffires. Robinson's family sought out Quick for advice during the decision-making process.

Robinson was accompanied at the news conference by his mother, Suzette Sims, and two aunts. Sims said she wanted her son to stay in school, but was overruled. Three years ago, Sims hand-picked N.C. State for Robinson.

Sims had a sinking feeling watching her son perform so well in Miami last week.

"It started off slow and I was holding out hope, but then he got better and I said, `He's going,"' Sims said. "I have no doubt about his ability. He'll be good. When you get to be a grown man it gets hard for mamma to overrule you."

The loss of Robinson is a major blow to a Wolfpack offense that scored 30 or more points in eight of 12 games. Robinson was the favorite target of freshman quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw for more than 3,000 yards and 25 TDs.

Bryan Peterson, who caught 28 passes in 2000, will be the team's top returning wide receiver. Willie Wright had 31 catches as a tight end.

"He said he would miss me," Robinson said of his conversation with Rivers. "I told him it was a privilege working with him. I apologized to him. He laughed."

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