Updated: Sep 2, 2019
From the eye test, redshirt senior tight end Robert Pinkney looks like an NFL tight end. At 6'4, 255 lbs, Pinkney's size will most certainly attract NFL teams. If one were to look beyond his size, Pinkney is as gifted an athlete as any college player in the nation.
2018 was more than a breakout season, he became Vanderbilt's standard-bearer at his position. His 50 receptions were the most by a tight end since 1984. His 15.5 yards per reception was among the highest for tight ends in the nation. Coming into this season, Pinkney has the opportunity to elevate his status to heights that few within Commodores program have ever reached.
"I really like what Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney offers", NFL draft analyst and writer for The Draft Network Jonah Tuls noted about Pinkney. "Play strength and competitive toughness flash each time I watch Pinkney on tape".
For Pinkney, returning for his senior season was a much easier decision than many may have perceived it to be. A breakout season such as the one he had, would merit that type of consideration. When it came down to it, a heart-to-heart conversation with head coach Derek Mason, and deeper self-evaluation ultimately led to his decision to stay.
"You know what? The most surprising thing for me personally is the level of maturity I brought to it,” he told the press at this year's SEC Media Days. "I was able to sit back with a good level of maturity thanks to my mom and coach Mason and kind of take it all in perspective. Is this really the year I need to come out? It was a good decision in the end, I think."
With practically every preseason accolades and Watchlists under his belt, it would seem appropriate to label him best tight end in the SEC. Yet the mild-mannered senior perceives himself as player continuously evolving in his craft.
"Comparison is the thief of all joy, you know," he told the media. "In all seriousness, I don't need the hyperbole and the shock value, I just want to be known as a really good player."
What awaits Pinkney is yet to be decided, but his humble demeanor and strong work ethic have him destined to be in a class of his own.