Denard Robinson has not been the best quarterback I’ve ever watched. Not even close. But short of Charles Woodson, Calvin Johnson, and Barry Sanders, he is the most explosive player I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching play in person. No one like Denard Robinson will ever don the maize and blue again. Having a player that can score anytime he touches the ball is one of the rarest things a team can have, and it should never be taken for granted. It has literally been an honor and a pleasure to watch him play. Even with the arm punts, and the sometimes disappointing performances, no one like him will ever enter the Big House again.
His highlight reels are simply incredible. You knew from the very first play that he ran that he was going to be special. Watching this play in person is something I’ll never forget. It was so special that Austin Shapiro went to go get a #16 Denard Robinson jersey in the M-Den a few days after. Unfortunately for him, they were not in stock because no one knew how great Denard was going to be, and he settled on a Tate Forcier jersey.
The University and the M-Den may not have been prepared for the jaw-dropping skill set that Denard unleashed, but the Michigan fan base couldn’t have been happier by his meteoric rise. Number 16 jerseys could soon be seen all over the stadium, and as Desmond Howard said, “the whole nation, when they watched him play, just kind of held their breath.” He couldn’t be more right.
Michigan fans should be happy that Shavodrick Beaver and Kevin Newsome decommitted, because without that, we never would have gotten to experience Denard. Without him, I’m not sure that this football program would have ever been fixed. Even when Rich Rodriguez was fired, and Denard could have transferred to any school in the country, he chose to stay. Al Borges promised to tailor the offense for Denard, and that was enough to convince him to stay; that and the fact that he viewed the Michigan football team as his family. He could have transferred to Oregon and won a Heisman; his talent in the Pac-12 in Chip Kelly’s system? Mind-boggling. Thankfully for the Michigan fan base, Denard is fiercely loyal to his teammates and to his school that he grew to love.
The highlight reel plays will live on YouTube forever, but you will be hard-pressed to see another player of his caliber make his way into the Big House. It is necessary for him to graduate for the program to move forward. The offense and the team needs to evolve. The days of a one-dimensional offense that relies solely on Denard Robinson and his skills have to end. Unfortunately, players don’t have unlimited eligibility and it has become increasingly clear that Devin Gardner has the ability to be a fantastic starting quarterback.
Not only was he an amazing player that led Michigan through the darkest era in its football history he’s the perfect example of the student athlete. He showed up at countless sporting events to show support for his fellow student athletes, and was always approachable; even though you know it had to get old for him eventually. When most people would gripe or complain about their situation, he never publicly complained. He never made excuses, and he was a team-first guy. That’s why everyone loves him. He took the losses to heart, and never made excuses. This photo is immediately after the 2009 Michigan-Iowa game when Denard threw an interception that cost Michigan the game:
The look on his face is completely genuine, always has been and always will be; that’s truly remarkable. He was willing to do anything to help the team win, and it’s going to be a major reason why he will be drafted in the first 3 rounds of the NFL Draft. The other obvious reason is he is an absolute freak athlete.
He was the player the program needed and he will be immortalized as a Michigan legend soon enough, and rightfully so. Anyone that thinks otherwise is just completely ignorant. Players will clamor to be the ones to wear #16, because unlike the other Michigan legends, he will be fresh in the minds of the young football players.
Considering the Michigan tradition and history, this is an extremely absurd and amazing laundry-list of accomplishments. Sure, he didn’t win a Big Ten Championship, or any post-season awards on a National scale, but those things wouldn’t even properly quantify what he’s meant to this program. He’s a true “Michigan Man” that stuck with the program through the thick and thin. He put the team over himself. He had every right to act cocky and ignore people, and he just wanted to be like everyone else. Michigan will never see another player like him because a player like Denard Robinson is a once-in-a-lifetime player.
Thank you for the memories Denard, it was a pleasure.