2009 Recruiting: Denard Robinson

Submitted by Brian on June 18th, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, RB Vincent Smith, and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.

Deerfield Beach, Florida - 6'0" 180
denard-robinson-track Scout 4*, #16 CB, #159 overall
Rivals 4*, #14 ATH, #188 overall
ESPN 81, #7 ATH, #101 overall
Others #187 to TAKKLE.
Other Suitors Florida, Georgia, Kansas State, West Virginia
Previously On
Mailbag question answered.
Notes Teammate of Witty. Nicknamed "Shoelace".

Yeah, I said it: Pat White. "You may remember me from such players as" is supposed to be an indicator of the type of player Michigan will get if the kid pans out and not a prediction of same, but invoking the Great White Bolt is a heavy burden in any case. That goes double when the other quarterback options are another true freshman and That Darkness We Do Not Consider.

But it's hard to avoid the comparison when the player in question does this

Deerfield Beach's Denard Robinson got the near-perfect start he needed, motored down the straightaway and won the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.44 seconds at the BCAA Track Championships at Coral Springs on Saturday.

Robinson's personal-best … is the second-fastest high school time in the nation, according to Dyestat Elite 100 rankings.

…and says this afterwards…

'' I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that,'' Robinson said.

…and is this according to SoFLAFootball…

Best athlete in Florida may move to WR or CB in college

…and has a tag on this blog called "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium." (He'd later finish third in the state finals after a poor start. The guy who won broke the state record.) Even Tate Forcier's mom knows what's up:

On National Signing Day in February, early-enrollee Tate Forcier couldn’t even remember Denard Robinson’s name. All he knew was what his mom had explained over the phone earlier that day: the Wolverines signed another dual-threat quarterback, and he is really fast.

His FAKE 40 time, as you might imagine, is outstandingly so: he ran a 4.33 at Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp, which is probably generous but was also the fastest time anyone turned in at a loaded event. That was no fluke, either. At an early Scout combine he put up a 4.39, and was named the best QB in attendance. He even had a FAKE 100 time, a Free Press-reported 10.28 (now paywalled) that The Diag, sadly, debunked.

All of this is very impressive, and his coach is over the moon about the kid:

"Oh my god, Michigan is going to get an explosive, explosive quarterback," Taylor said. "He's a leader, he pushes his will to win on others. I've never seen a kid so competitive."

Here's another version of that quote:

''I don't think people realize how fast he is,'' Taylor said. ``He has so many gears. You have great quarterbacks who can kill you with their arm, and you have great running backs who can kill you with their speed. He has both. He's just spectacular, explosive.

``He's a game-changing kid. I'll guarantee you he will play on Sundays.''

And his athletic director chips in:

"He held everybody to such a high standard," said Vinnie Tozzi, Deerfield Beach's athletic director. "If people weren't giving 110 percent, he would not be satisfied. He would will his team to want to win."

Add Robinson to the growing list of Michigan recruits about whom those sorts of statements are uttered. Rodriguez is pushing his charges far harder than Carr did towards the end of his career—remember Alex Mitchell being begged to return to the team at a waddling 350?—and recruiting the sorts of players who will endure the Barwis long-term.

Other colleges came calling, and major ones: Robinson claimed 30 offers before narrowing it down, including Georgia, Ohio State, and large sections of the SEC. Michigan's main competition for Robinson was Florida, who offered early—they were actually the first—and held out the (possibly slightly fanciful) promise of a shot at quarterback. Other major offers came from teams recruiting him as a wide receiver or defensive back. Similarities to White are duly noted, and questions about his ability to stick at quarterback raised.

For its part, ESPN thinks he's got a real shot:

Robinson is just a flat out playmaker in every sense of the word and he will surprise you with his production in the passing game. If he were taller, there is no doubt he would be a serious QB prospect, but his overall skills will likely land him somewhere else. Has a quick, live arm and is very effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field. … He is scary when the initial play breaks down--has supreme quickness, burst and acceleration and has a knack for pulling a rabbit out of his hat when he gets in trouble. Throws extremely well on the move, especially to his right. … However, at times Robinson will try and make too much happen and force things a little. His height limits his vision and he will leave the pocket and may scramble too much at times because he knows he has a chance to make something happen if out of the pocket. When not in the shotgun, he struggles to see the whole field and work through progressions.

Michigan is his system, and the spring game's heavy reliance on the rollout should help Robinson segue well into collegiate quarterbacking despite that height thing. Both of Michigan's quarterbacks are relatively short, and Rodriguez will design around that. So: promise but only after some polish. His, numbers say the same thing. Allow myself to quote myself in mailbag post on this site:

But then you've got the passing stats:

Key Statistics... completed 100-of-231 passes for 1,809 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior ...

There's a big, big gap between those numbers and Forcier's. That's a 43% completion rate. I know that high school passing is often a whole lot of bombing downfield (18 yards per completion!), but those numbers say "project" to me.

ESPN's point about throwing on the move is obvious in Robinson's highlight video, which if you do nothing else you should skip to the three minute mark and watch him do a bunch of crazy stuff that will get him killed in college but worked out okay in high school:

Robinson rolled out a lot, and seemed effective doing it, though the throws you see above were obviously interspersed with a fair number of turfed balls or, like, the hopeless long loopers that appear to be Robinson's default option when shorter options are covered and running lanes aren't apparent.

Oddly, Robinson's rushing yards weren't spectacular. He had only 538, which was fewer than Forcier had, though Forcier wasn't going up against big schools in Florida at Scripps Ranch. Does this indicate a Drew Tate Forcier-like tendency to run around in the backfield and then launch it deep? A couple of throws above and that yards per completion number indicate "yes", but he also breaks contain several times and takes off and those are just highlights so maybe he got sacked a lot for ridiculous yardage after running around like a headless chicken and I guess what I'm trying to say is we just don't know, dude.

We just have to go on the universal heavy panting about this guy's ability to outrun a cheetah in a Porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane. Which, like, okay.

Why Pat White? Obvs.

Etc.: Signing day video.

Guru Reliability: High. Prominent player at a well-scouted high school and the rankings all land in the same area.
General Excitement Level: Slightly under high. Yes, he has huge upside but he is also a project and will require a lot of coaching up if he's to be effective at quarterback.
Projection: Even if Robinson doesn't pan out Michigan won't be moving him for at least two years and doesn't have the quarterback depth to redshirt anyone this year, so at the very least you'll see him reprise the Feagin role from last year's Minnesota game except with a definite possibility he'll throw. Going forward it'll be a battle between his electric athleticism and Forcier's polish, with Forcier having the obvious early edge because of his spring enrollment.


Big Boutros

June 18th, 2009 at 5:45 PM ^

I'd like to think that, in two years, Robinson develops into everything we hope and pray he can be, only he'll be overshadowed on this board and elsewhere by the Thorpe Award-winning play of Adrian Witty.


June 18th, 2009 at 7:57 PM ^

In high school, a lot of us on the track team would wear ridiculously high socks (I opted for black) there was no reason for it except for general high school guy mentality of wanting to look sweet.

I guess if I ran the 100m 20% faster I could have pulled it off too...


June 18th, 2009 at 5:48 PM ^

it would be interesting to see if they design some packages for him to be used like a percy harvin type (slot, tailback). i think it would be fun to see him and forcier in the game at the same time w/ d-rob in that role. maybe even sprinkle some wild cat in there?

J. Lichty

June 18th, 2009 at 5:49 PM ^

I expect both will see meaningful snaps - players get dinged up and freshman struggle. Both - like the less appealing battle of suck between Threet and Sheridan last year - will have a chance to paly meaningful downs.


June 19th, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

Exactamundo. Like any other QB battle, this isn't going to be settled by the end of practices. Unless Forcier is just destroying opponents, after Robinson has absorbed a little bit of the playbook, they'll roll him in for a few. By the end of the year, I feel like Forcier will have had the vast majority of the time, at which point it may be hard to unseat him no matter how good Robinson is, but that's not necessarily true.


June 18th, 2009 at 5:56 PM ^

that I will be pissed if he doesn't at the very least split some time at QB with Forcier. I'm really excited about both of these guys, but I think Robinson can really help us out on some key plays with his explosiveness. I will be happy if
1)DRob plays and does at least pretty well and
2)I'm at a game where I can see him play.
I guess I'll have to settle for the NCAA 10 version of DRob for a while.

EDIT- Also, in the pic, Denard looks absolutely RIPPED. His quads are huge. It looks like this guy could easily kill Tate. I don't think he will, but he definitely could break Tate in half.


June 18th, 2009 at 9:40 PM ^

I stand somewhat corrected. FML DAMN IT ALL.

EDIT: Although, now that I look at it, his upperbody isn't that big or strong like Forcier, but DRobs quads are massive. Haven't looked at Tate's quads and now that I think about it I should stop talking about guys' quads alltogether.

Maize n Brew Dave

June 18th, 2009 at 6:22 PM ^

Pretty quick release, nice footwork to set a throw. If he can complete those quick slants and rollouts with regularity, man, RRod did even better recruiting QBs than we gave him credit for.

Wolverine In Exile

June 18th, 2009 at 6:26 PM ^

With all due respect to Brian, Pat White is a poor comparison. I would list it as:

YMRMFSPA: Jason Peter Garrick, aka The Flash (original)

He played football in college too. If Denard majors in chemistry, or attaches little metal wings to his helmet (wait a minute-- our helmets already have wings!) we'll all know what's up.


June 18th, 2009 at 8:36 PM ^

I can't say a whole lot about this kid other than his nickname (NARD DOGG) is probably the coolest.

FACT: The defense in the 1st game footage was terrible.
FACT: Passes seemed to get there late.
FACT: Nard Dogg is going to be doing more running then passing.
FACT: Running 70% Passing 30%

and my dog just farted. MLIA.


June 18th, 2009 at 10:33 PM ^

Did Tate operate an option-read rushing attack in H.S.?

If so, could that be the reason he rushed for more yardage than DRob?

I'm only asking because it does not appear as if DRob was running a lot of option plays in his video.


June 18th, 2009 at 11:54 PM ^

That is an awesome picture. It's like posterizing someone, but with less teabagging and more "Ah, my ACL!"

Kid looks like a keeper. I suspect he'll be lining up somewhere other than QB by the end of his career at UM, but for now he gives a better option than anyone else on the staff.


June 19th, 2009 at 12:45 AM ^

It seemed like he wasn't hitting his receivers in stride on a lot of those throws, as opposed to Tate being cash money at the spring game.

And I have decided that Denard will play Qb and receiver...at the same time.


June 19th, 2009 at 4:52 AM ^

I vaguely remember a quote somewhere that said "Denard moves so fast they've renamed electrons, Robinsons".

That said, people at the spring game were having Denard sign their baby's forehead and stuff. You must be good if you're signing babies, especially if it's with a sharpie.


June 19th, 2009 at 9:55 AM ^

I agree with Obes that it looks like Tate has more wiggle and avoids people better. Robinson, for all his speed didn't seem to do too much juking. I was surprised how strong his arm looked though. And also the quick release. I had assumed that he would be depth until we had Gardner in the fold but maybe he can play qb after all.


June 19th, 2009 at 1:45 PM ^

doesn't need to juke a lot to look pretty. He makes subtle movements to get by defenders without losing much of his speed. D-Rob uses his blockers very well especially with his top-notch speed at QB position. Pat White is the same way yet he's one of the best running QB ever to play in NCAA football.

D-Rob's ability to use his speed effectively as well as having the 2nd gear to blow by defenders is very impressive.


June 19th, 2009 at 10:03 AM ^

Can he catch the ball??? IMHO.... we need a reality check.. he will not, barring injury to Tate, see significant time at QB. The reality is.... he will take hand-offs, run, and also be used as receiver and return man... Book it, Danno.