Jon Robinson played college football for three seasons at Southeast Missouri State as a defensive linemen.
Fast forward more than 20 years and has Robinson found a hidden secret in his own backyard?
The Titans recently confirmed the signing of 14 un-drafted free agents, and Southeast Missouri State wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson is among them. Robinson likely knows all about Wilkerson, a receiver that owns SEMO’s all-time career records in receiving yards (3,540) and touchdown catches (33).
Wilkerson recently spoke with MCM about how he formed a relationship with the Titans, what he brings to the table, and what his goals and aspirations are over these next few months as he tries to secure a spot on the Titans roster. I found the amount of work the Titans put into scouting Wilkerson particularly interesting.
JM: Not a lot of guys that played at Southeast Missouri State get this opportunity. You must be excited and inspired to potentially uplift the underdog around the nation.
KW: Yeah, I definitely am. I’ve always played the game with a chip on my shoulder. I’ve always been the underdog. As a result of that, I’ve always had to work harder than the next guy. Nobody expected me to make it this far. I’ve always worked to ensure that I can bring something to the table.
JM: You’re actually from Tennessee, Memphis to be exact. Did signing with the hometown team make this that much sweeter?
KW: Yeah, it means the world to me. I grew up watching the Tennessee Titans. I’ve familiar with a lot of their older, former greats. I can recall watching some of their better teams throughout the early part of my life. It’s close to my family and they can come watch me play. It just gives me another reason to continue to work my butt off to make the team and contribute.
JM: How did you form a relationship with the Titans throughout the pre-draft process?
KW: They came to quite a few of my practices throughout the season. They were present at our fall camp as well. They were supposed to be at our Pro Day but they were pulled off the road due to COVID-19. They’ve been around the whole time. Their general manager, Jon Robinson actually played football at my school, Southeast Missouri State. I know that he had conversations with my wide receiver coach and offensive coordinator. They’ve shown interest in me for a few months. It felt like the perfect fit to me.
#3 - Kristian Wilkerson, WR, SEMO - You have read about me boosting this kid. If you pull up the film of him against Jeremy Chinn and SIU, you will understand why I tell you all this kid is special. Wilkerson is a DAWG, and he should be drafted. If I was a GM I select him. pic.twitter.com/lZWp7ZivJY— NFL Draft Diamonds (@DraftDiamonds) April 8, 2020
JM: That’s very interesting. Did you speak to anybody from the Titans directly? Or was it always their scouts or Jon Robinson showing up at your practices?
KW: I spoke to them directly after the season. We spoke quite a bit actually.
JM: I imagine you had some other offers on the table. Why did you choose Tennessee?
KW: It’s close to home and I appreciate all of the interest they showed in me throughout the season. I really like their roster and what they do as an offense. I respect what the organization stands for. They play hard and they finish. They’re a tough team that loves to block. They have great receivers who are excellent route runners. I’ve watched a lot of film on their offense. I like the route combinations within their offense. I like what I saw. I feel like it’s the right fit for me.
Daniel Santacaterina heaves a 38-yard touchdown pass to Kristian Wilkerson!! SEMO capitalizes on a Seawolves miscue and now has 28 unanswered points in the quarter.— SEMO Football (@SEMOfootball) November 24, 2018
SEMO 28, SBU 14 | 3:42 3rd Qtr | #LetsSoar pic.twitter.com/WJ7YPShUQT
JM: That’s a great way to make your decision. How would you describe your skill-set as a receiver?
KW: I’m a jump-ball guy. I can be a contested catch winner. I’m always working on my route running and improving in that area. I’m a good, tough blocker. I’ve always done whatever my coaches need me to do. I’m a team player first and foremost.
JM: Do you have a favorite route to run?
KW: I would have to say a dig route. That allows me to sell it vertically, come inside and attack the ball. There’s so many things you can do with a dig route. You can disguise what you’re doing and make each dig route look a little different from the one before it. There’s so many options with that. I like the versatility that you get with a dig route.
Kristian Wilkerson is one of the most under talked about FCS prospects— Adam King (@AdamKingKFVS) March 13, 2020
Today he ran a 4.46 40 yard dash at the @SEMOfootball Pro Day.
That would T-13th at the NFL Combine among Wide receivers pic.twitter.com/MBHX0Uxhew
JM: Being able to contribute on special teams can often be the difference maker for a guy that’s trying to make the back-end of an NFL roster. Do you have any special teams experience?
KW: I played on special teams my first two years at SEMO. I’d like to play on every single special teams unit. If they can put me on all four units, that would be great for me. I’d be happy to play on every return team. I can run down the field and be a gunner.
JM: I’ve appreciated your time today, Kristian. In closing, what are your goals and aspirations for these next few months?
KW: To become a starter on special teams is my current goal. I just wanna contribute to the organization and help us win football games. I just wanna win and take things one day, one step at a time. If I can get 1% better every day, I’m doing my job to help the team. I wanna backup Corey Davis and A.J. Brown. Those are two studs right there. I wanna learn from those two guys.