In 2009 Denard Robinson burst onto the Michigan football scene with a 44-yard touchdown run against the Western Michigan Broncos on his first touch of the ball. After fumbling a David Molk snap, the 6-foot, 193-pound quarterback from Deerfield Beach, Fla., scooped the pigskin up and scampered down the right sideline to put Michigan on top 14-0 midway through the second quarter.
Unfortunately the rest of the season wasn't as memorable as that first snap.
As opposition began accumulating film on the second of the Wolverines two new signal callers from last season, adjustments were made to stop the Robinson's quick untied feet. In the end Robinson's snaps under center began to diminish as Tate Forcier began tallying more and more of the Michigan reps.
Now, though, it's a new year.
A summer of long, hot work outs and hours of film study later, Robinson is again ready to battle for the role of Michigan's top signal caller, this time with more knowledge of the Michigan offense. And, thanks to the additional time working with his talented pass catchers, teams should have to account for more than just his blazing speed.
"We did extra work working out and throwing the ball. That helped me a lot, getting used to the wide receivers and adjusting more to the speed. As a quarterback you need to do that with your receivers and that really helped me," Robinson said of his preparation for the fall over the past few months.
"I gained 15 pounds. I think I can take a couple hits now. My passing game and ability to read defenses is better now. I'm just pretty comfortable. I'm probably at like an eight or a nine (out of 10 on his understanding of the Michigan offensive playbook). Last year I was probably around a five. I'm not even going to lie to you about that."
While Denard will never be compared to Brett Favre, listed at media day as one of his football idols, due to his overwhelming athleticism Robinson often finds himself being compared to another highly successful Rich Rodriguez quarterback, former All-American Pat White.
"That's not a bad person to be compared to. He's a tremendous football player. He's real good. I wouldn't be mad being compared to him."
Along with Robinson both Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner look to compete to earn snaps in the upcoming season.
Tate, the starter in all 12 games last year, is battling back from a summer in which he may or may not have fallen behind Robinson on the depth chart. Gardner is a highly touted freshman from Inkster, Mich., and is pushing both Denard and Tate, something that continues to fuel going into the final weeks of camp.
"All of us battling for the job, at the college level everyone battles for every job anyhow, but everyone is competing. No one has a sure job. You want to show everybody that you're the guy for the job, that's what helps you get out there every day at practice. Actions speak louder than words. You've got to walk the walk before you talk."
The Wolverines open the season hosting UConn on Saturday, September 4 at 3:30 p.m. at Michigan Stadium.
Competition Fuels Robinson's Fire
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