Michigan Wolverines Football: 8 Reasons Denard Robinson Is The Next Tim Tebow

Josh DittonCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2010

Michigan Wolverines Football: 8 Reasons Denard Robinson Is The Next Tim Tebow

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    Denard Robinson put on another spectacular show against the Irish in South Bend on September 11th.
    Denard Robinson put on another spectacular show against the Irish in South Bend on September 11th.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    After Week 2 of college football, Denard Robinson is the undoubtedly most exciting and electrifying player in the nation. Even if you disagree you must admit he should be near the top of the list in discussion. 

    His dazzling performances led to nearly 400 yards of offense (383) against UConn and just over 500 yards (502) against Notre Dame.

    In fact, against the Irish, Denard was responsible for all but 30 yards of offense.



    These past two weeks, Denard has been a one-man army.

    His near-perfect play against Connecticut and staggering 502 yards against the Irish have people thinking that maybe—particularly if he can stay healthy—he will be college football's next star.  In fact, he just may be successor to the throne that none other than Tim Tebow left vacant after his departure to the NFL.

    If his performance against Notre Dame didn't convince you, perhaps the next eight reasons will.

Questions About the Passing Game Were Resolved in Week 1

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    ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines drops back to pass against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Michigan Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan won 45-17.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Tim Tebow made his first collegiate start on Sept. 1, 2007, against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.  Questions about his passing game were rampant, and although Gator Nation knew they had someone special, they still were not quite sold.

    Tebow promptly threw 13 of 17 for 300 yards and three TDs, silencing whatever remaining critics he had.

    Entering the 2010 season, Michigan's Denard Robinson faced similar speculation about his passing game.  After all, he completed only 14 of 31 passes for 188 yards and four INTs in 2009, not spectacular by any stretch of the word.

    But it took just one near-perfect performance against UConn for people to see that, at the very least, his passing has improved.  Robinson made 19 completions against Connecticut, more completions than in all of 2009, for 186 yards and a TD.

    At worst, he's improved.  At best, he's impossible to defend.

Sophomores Contending for The Heisman

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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12:  The Heisman trophy awarded to Running back Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at a press conference after  he was named the 75th Heisman Trophy winner at the Marriott Marquis on December 12, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    I said it.

    Denard Robinson is contending for the Heisman.

    And while Tebow might not have been as hyped or near the top of the Heisman watch list at this point in 2007 as Denard is right now, the fact remains that Tebow was a sophomore contending for the Heisman and Robinson is a sophomore contending for the Heisman.

    Tebow's case in 2007: He hold an amazing NCAA record of 51 touchdowns (29 passing, 21 rushing), becoming the first ever player to rush for more than 20 and throw for more than 20 touchdowns in one season.  His 22 rushing TDs were the most by any SEC player, ever, and his 3,970 total yards were a Florida record.

    Tebow carried his team to a successful 2007 season.

    Robinson so far:
    In just two games, Denard Robinson has amassed nearly 900 yards of offense.  That's not a typo or a mistake, he has accounted for nearly 900 yards (885 yards to be specific).  He has yet to throw an interception (I know we're only two games into the season, but compared to last year, this is quite amazing).  He's started a total of two games, set records, and then broke them himself.

    Robinson, like Tebow, has the potential to carry his team through the season.  No, I'm not predicting a BCS game, conference title or anything outlandish like that. But Robinson is looking like the solid leader for Michigan that Tebow became for Florida.

Responsibility of the Offense

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Greg Banks #92 of the Michigan Wolverines fires up his teammates during warm-ups before a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Michigan defeated Notre
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Tim Tebow consistently was responsible for right around 50 percent of the Gators' offense.

    This year, Denard Robinson has accounted for 885 of the Wolverines' 1005 yards of offense, or 87.9 percent.

    Expect that number to drop as the running backs and receivers find their place and get more action, but as discussed in the previous slide, both Tim Tebow and Denard Robinson have commanded their offense in record-setting ways.

The Record-Setting Rushing Game

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators rushes upfield against the Florida International University Golden Panthers, November 21, 2009 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Tim Tebow rushed 194 times for 838 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2007.  Against Ole Miss, he rushed for 166 yards, breaking the school record for QB rushing yards.  Later in the year, Tebow rushed for two TDs against Vandy and broke the SEC record for QB TDs in a season.  Against the South Carolina Gamecocks, Tebow rushed for five TDs, breaking the school record for rushing TDs in a season.

    Denard Robinson, so far, has rushed 57 times for 455 yards, already making it half way to Tim Tebow's 2007 rushing record.  Denard has recorded three touchdowns in two games, and if he continues at the same pace, he will likely finish at around 18-22 rushing TDs

    Against UConn, Robinson rushed for 197 yards, breaking the school record for QB rushing yards.  In Week 2 against Notre Dame, he rushed for 258 yards, breaking his own school record for QB rushing yards.  In fact, Robinson had the fifth-best performance of any Michigan rusher (QB or RB) in its 131 year history of football.

    Similar doesn't quite describe it.

Both Are Team Players

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Michigan Wolverines waits with his team before entering the field for a game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Michigan
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Remember Tim Tebow's half-time speech, engraved on a plaque on the campus in Gainesville?  His speech after the loss to Ole Miss in 2008, pledging to do better, as a team?

    Tim Tebow's intangibles, such as his ability to lead the team, inspire and set fire beneath them are some of his biggest assets.  Statistics only go so far to describe a player. There's a lot more behind the numbers, and Tebow is a prime example.

    And while Denard Robinson's saga at Michigan has really only just begun, we're already seeing the glimpses of these intangibles that made Tebow so great.

    When Denard took the podium and was told he amassed over 500 yards in offense, he flinched, then grinned.

    "I didn't even know that," he told the Free Press.

    Ever look at the numbers?

    "No, I do not," Robinson said. "I'm a team player and I don't worry about the stats."

Both Are Clutch

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Denard Robinson #16 of the Michigan Wolverines looks for a receiver under pressure from Carlo Calabrese #44 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on September 11, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Michigan defeat
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Both are clutch, but perhaps in different ways.  Consider that Tim Tebow had two seasons with a combined 10 INTs (four in one, six in the other) and Sam Bradford, the other No. 1 college QB, had combined for 16 in two seasons.  Basically, Tebow kept his cool; he knew when to throw, run and how to just get it done.  His almost-too-good-to-be true numbers are a testament to his ability.

    What is perhaps most interesting is that Tim Tebow didn't ever lead his team to a fourth quarter, come-from-behind victory.  He had opportunities —the LSU game (in which LSU won and went on to win the title) and the 2008 Capital One Bowl vs Michigan—but he never did get that done.

    Denard Robinson orchestrated a 12-play, 72-yard drive, including a nail-biting 4th-and-inches and an awesome 3rd-and-5 play that resulted in a Roy Roundtree 15-yard reception on the ND 2-yard line.  With just under 30 seconds left, he scampered into the end zone and gave Michigan the edge, 28-24.

    That was clutch, admittedly in a different way, but clutch nonetheless.  His ability to keep his cool and march down the field like that is, at the very least, reminiscent of Tebow's ability to march down the field in a calm and collected manner.

The Awards

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: Kevin Koger #86 and Perry Dorrestein #79 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrate with Denard Robinson #16 after Robinson scored the game-winning touchdown against against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on S
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Here's a list of Tim Tebow's honors:

    2007 season:

    • Walter Camp Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week
    • Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week, three times
    • Davey O'Brien Award winner
    • Heisman Trophy winner
    • Maxwell Award winner
    • Walter Camp Award finalist
    • Sporting News Player of the Year/Harley Award winner
    • NCAA QB of the Year
    • First-Team Academic All-American
    • Manning Award finalist
    • Rivals.com National Offensive Player of the Year/Rivals.com SEC Offensive Player of the Year
    • First-Team All-SEC (Associated Press, Coaches, Rivals.com)
    • Associated Press SEC Offensive Player of the Year
    • Associated Press Player of the Year
    • First-team All-American by: Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, Walter Camp Football Foundation, Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS Sports, College Football News, Rivals.com and Scout.com
    • James E. Sullivan Award, awarded to the nation's top amateur athlete
    • Roy F. Kramer SEC Male Athlete of the Year.  Third Florida Gator to win this award: Danny Wuerffel won twice and Ryan Lochte once.
    • ESPY for Best Male College Athlete

    2008 Season:

    • First-team All-America by College Football News
    • Disney Spirit Award
    • ESPY for Best Male College Athlete
    • Heisman Trophy finalist
    • Manning Award winner
    • Maxwell Award winner
    • Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week
    • 2008 SEC Championship Game Most Valuable Player
    • First-Team All-SEC (AP, Coaches, Rivals.com)
    • Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year
    • Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year
    • Wuerffel Trophy winnerFirst-team Academic All-American

    2009 season:

    • William V. Campbell Trophy (formerly the Vincent dePaul Draddy Trophy "The Academic Heisman") winner
    • First-team Academic All-American
    • Lowe's Senior CLASS Award
    • Heisman Trophy finalist
    • First-team All-SEC (AP, Coaches, Rivals.com)
    • Second-team All-America (Walter Camp Foundation)
    • Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year
    • Sugar Bowl Most Outstanding Player
    • Sports Illustrated College football Player of the Decade

    Now, it's early in the season, I understand, but the awards are already coming Denard's way.

    After week one, he earned Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week, Walter Camp Football Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week recognition and the Rivals.com National Player of the Week award.

    After Week 2, he was named as the College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Week and leads Division I FBS in total rushing yards per game.  What is more interesting, and this was touched on earlier, is his Heisman status.

    Gregg Doyel, a national columnist for CBSSports.com, wrote:  "Denard Robinson has earned the right to pole position in the Heisman race. It's not close. And if he stays healthy, I fully expect him to walk across a stage in New York City in December and take that trophy home."

    His two starting performances rank No. 1 and No. 2 in total offense in Michigan history.  Expect the accolades to keep coming.

They're Dual Threat

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    Perhaps slightly obvious, yet overlooked.  Fundamentally, they are both dual-threats, able to run and pass the ball.  They don't simply drop back and pass or hand off the ball every play; they are integral to the success of the team.  The dynamic ability of a dual-threat QB is the game changer, and the reason that teams that run the spread (WVU, Florida and now Michigan) can endure success.

    Pat White had made his way up into the Heisman talk during his time at WVU, but something is different about Denard, and even RichRod recognizes it when he told the Detroit News that "I have coached some great quarterbacks, but I have never seen anything like that before."

    Michigan fans thought that if Robinson could pass, he would be an offensive weapon against the opponents.  In two weeks, he has redefined the term "offensive weapon," absolutely exploding for yardage and showcasing that he is the dual-threat.  His ability to run and throw like he does is shared by only a few people, Tim Tebow included.

    Right now, ESPN projects him to finish the year with 2,580 passing yards and 12 TD.  In rushing terms, if he stays on pace at 227 yards per game, he'd finish with 2,724 rushing yards.  Now, he likely won't put up the same numbers against Big Ten defenses, but the prospect is nothing short of shocking.  How about 5,304 total yards?  You got it, no problem.

    What's perhaps most exciting is that these numbers aren't coming against FCS opponents or bottom-tier FBS schools; they were against respectable BCS opponents.

    Give him the rest of the year, and the future, and he just might even re-define "dual-threat."