Now that the college football season is over, coaches across the country are left trying to replace guys who have either graduated or entered the NFL a year early. Few teams will have it as tough as Michigan when trying to replace Denard Robinson.
"Shoelace" was the heartbeat of this Michigan Wolverines offense for the last three years as he went on to break many NCAA and school records throughout his career. Easily one of the most exciting players this sport has seen in a while, Robinson kept his team in many games and led the Wolverines to great success.
Now with the quarterback trying to make a career at the next level, it is up to Michigan to find players that can try and replace his playmaking ability. Players will need to step up and provide that spark on offense that Robinson was known for doing countless times in Ann Arbor.
Here are a few guys who the Wolverines will count on most with Robinson no longer in the picture in 2013.
Devin Gardner, QB
Gardner is the easiest person to pick out of the bunch because he will likely become the starting quarterback and replace Robinson next season. The transition is a lot easier with him playing in the final five games of the year, as Robinson was recovering from a nerve injury.
Gardner finished the season completing 59.5 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. While he may not be as athletic as Robinson is in the running department, he also picked up 101 rushing yards and scored seven times on the ground.
Robinson's replacement has a lot of raw ability to be a really good quarterback next season. He isn't the most polished quarterback in the world, but does show great touch on his passes and is a lot more accurate than Robinson ever was in throwing the ball. While his footwork and technique can be critiqued all day long, he has more than enough arm strength and his dual-threat ability allows for him to make plays with his feet.
Gardner played well down the stretch and gave Wolverines fans a chance to get excited about the quarterback position. As long he can continue to improve his decision-making during camp, Michigan should be set at quarterback heading into the 2013 season.
Drake Johnson, RB
It is unknown if senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will be ready to go next year after badly injuring his ankle late in the year. The injury did require surgery, and according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN, he is expected to make a full recovery.
Toussaint had surgery, went well. Hoke saw him yesterday. Expected out of hospital today. Full recovery.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) November 19, 2012
However, this doesn't tell us if he will in fact be ready to go when the regular season kicks off, or if he will miss a few games.
This is where Drake Johnson comes in to play. He didn't play at all last year, but was a solid recruit in the 2012 class and could end up becoming the starter next year depending on the health of Toussaint. He is a good sized running back at 6'1", 200-plus pounds and runs with incredible speed for a guy his size. Johnson has the speed to break free from defenders and is able to hit another gear once he gets out in the open field.
He is also a gifted receiver at the running back position, which gives him even more chances to earn immediate playing time in this offense. Regardless of the health of Toussaint, Johnson should see a lot of action next year and should make a significant impact.
Jeremy Gallon, WR
If there is anybody that should be excited about Gardner being the new quarterback, it is without question wide receiver Jeremy Gallon. Not only is he the most experienced wideout entering his senior year, but he seemed to have developed a connection with the new quarterback the second he stepped onto the field.
Gallon set a career high with 49 receptions last year for 829 yards and four touchdowns. The majority of that production came when Gardner was the quarterback, as he caught 31 of those passes and had 511 of those receiving yards in the final five games. This includes having his most productive game of his career in the bowl matchup against South Carolina, hauling in nine passes for 145 yards and two scores.
If these types of numbers can continue for an entire year, Gallon will be considered one of the best wide receivers of the 2013 season. Due to him being the most experienced receiver on the roster, look for Gallon to receive a lot of looks next year and make a strong impact, especially if last season was any indication of things to come.