Let me be clear before getting started: Denard Robinson is an extremely talented kid who is a lot of fun to watch.
In fact, the junior quarterback from Michigan with the ultra-cool nickname of "Shoelace" might be the most exciting player in college football.
But the recklessness that makes him so appealing may also be the reason he has a difficult time staying in the lineup. It was an injury, and not poor play, that knocked him out of last season's Heisman Trophy race. And, once again, he was knocked out of a game today—this time in a 28-14 loss to archrival Michigan State.
"We're always concerned on a daily basis,'' Wolverines coach Brady Hoke told the assembled media earlier this week. "And the way we practice he's going to get bumped around a little with some of the things we do. So, that's always a concern. But he's a pretty tough guy. So far, we're hanging in there."
I met Robinson prior to his senior year at Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School when he attended the University of Florida's summer recruiting showcase, called "Friday Night Lights."
There was a lot of talk prior to FNL that then-Gator coach Urban Meyer liked Robinson better as a cornerback prospect than as a quarterback (a head-scratching notion I never believed because of Meyer's spread offense and Robinson's obvious fit in it).
When asked immediately after the showcase if he had a college position preference, Robinson took a politically correct approach. He said he wanted to be a quarterback but would do what was best to help his team.
It's clear that Michigan benefits most from having Robinson leading the offense.
After all, he entered the week leading the Big Ten in rushing with 702 yards (a total that was modestly upped to 744 against the Spartans). He is quick, fast and elusive, traits that endear him to fans and teammates.
However, not everyone can go snap after snap without being hit, and just like talented, but oft-injured Michael Vick, Robinson hasn't gotten up every time he's been knocked down.
So, when he moves on to the NFL, will teams look at Robinson as a quarterback or will a position switch be in the offing?
While he outquicks and speeds past most college players, Robinson doesn't possess Vick's otherworldly athleticism. And while he is faster than Carolina Panthers' dual-threat rookie standout Cam Newton, Robinson stands 6'1", 195 pounds, while Newton is closer to 6'5", 240.
The guess here is Robinson ends up a receiver in the NFL who is utilized at quarterback in certain packages, much like former Missouri standout Brad Smith has been used by the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
That may be the future. For now, enjoy him at quarterback... and wish the best for him every time he takes a shot.
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