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Posted on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez: Denard Robinson still a quarterback, but will play elsewhere this spring

By Dave Birkett


Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson fires a pass in a drill last August. Robinson will see time at quarterback and other positions, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday. (Photo: Lon Horwedel | Ann

Denard Robinson will be in the thick of “some pretty good competition” at quarterback this spring, but Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he’s ready to expand Robinson’s role in the offense.

Robinson played all 12 games as a true freshman last year, running for 351 yards and five touchdowns as the backup to Tate Forcier.

But Robinson was limited in the playbook last year - he didn’t have the benefit of spring practice like Forcier - and raw as a passer (14-of-31 with four interceptions), leading many to believe his future is at another position.

Yes and no, Rodriguez said Tuesday, before the start of spring practice.

“I think he’s too explosive when he’s not playing quarterback to have him standing beside me,” Rodriguez said. “He’s going to learn quarterback. That’s what he’ll be the majority of the time. But as I said before, if you learn quarterback in our offense you really know every position on offense, so we should be able to move him around and play other positions.”

Along with quarterback, Robinson could see playing time at receiver. Michigan graduated two of its top seven pass catchers last year and will be without a third, Junior Hemingway, because of injury this spring.

Robinson, one of Michigan’s fastest players, lined up for a handful of snaps at receiver last year but did not catch a pass. He also started the Wisconsin game at running back, alongside Forcier.

“With his kind of speed and his ball skills, I think we can move him around a little bit,” Rodriguez said.

Forcier and Robinson will take “the majority” of first- and second-team quarterback snaps this spring, Rodriguez said, while true freshman Devin Gardner - one of seven early enrollees - eases his way into the playbook.

Rodriguez cautioned not to put too many expectations on Gardner, the most high-profile recruit in Michigan's 2010 class.

“Tate and Denard played last year as true freshmen and I thought did an admirable job," Rodriguez said. "But right now those young guys, Tate and Denard, aren’t going to back up, they’re going to get better. Devin’s got a job to do to beat them out.

“But as our players will tell you, every position’s wide open all the time and they got to come and compete every day, and Devin’s a young man I know will do that.”

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Sun, Mar 21, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

wersch, you're right on the money. RR had no choice but to keep Shoelace as the only viable back up for Tate, who was getting hammered consistently anyway and playing most of the year with an injured shoulder. Shoelace on defense? I think he's too dangerous on offense in college. Lightning strike for a TD on any play from anywhere on the field, as was said, if he can become a competent receiver.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

I think 81Wolverine got it right when he said that DRob should move to defense. We are still very weak in our secondary and could use someone with that level of speed to keep one side of the field under control. Let's not forget that ball security wasn't one of DRob's strengths last year either. Putting him on defense would let his athletic ability come to full bloom, while minimizing his weaknesses. If he's really thinking long term, DRob should be looking at where he projects as a pro and I just don't see that on the offensive side of the ball. Might as well get it over with now and make the transition.


Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 10:37 a.m.

man, denard looks a lot bigger than he did last year. That can only be good. Can't wait to see him on the field.

Sean T.

Wed, Mar 17, 2010 : 2:31 a.m.

The writing is on the wall Denard, you are now a WR! After the 2010 season denard will transfer or play WR where he can be used more. I've said it all along that Robinson will never start if theres a healthy Tate Forcier. "Tate the Great"!


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 6:41 p.m.

I loved it whenever Denard would step onto the field last year and the anouncers would both be trying to be the first one to blurt out "Well theres Denard, that means this is going to be a run play" and sure enough he would fake the pass and get burried at the line of scrimmage by a defence that wasnt even fooled for a minute. Then tate would come limping back out for a 3rd and long.


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 5:22 p.m.

Tom Brady would of had a rough go as a freshmen.


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 4:28 p.m.

81wolverine - it's not the fact that Rich Rodriguez has "seen the light" it's that there is a viable 3rd QB in the system this year. Why would Rich Rodriguez run Denard out there when Tate was playing with lingering injuries the second half of the season. He couldn't risk getting Denard injured to compound Tate's injuries and the lack of depth at QB. These items I mentioned above are not as much of an issue this year with Gardner in the mix, so Denards role is expanding as it be in his sophomore year. Rich Rodriguez knows what he's doing.


Tue, Mar 16, 2010 : 4:02 p.m.

I think hes too explosive when hes not playing quarterback to have him standing beside me, The rest of us knew this fact half way through the season last year. I'm glad RR has "seen the light" about Denard. He's taking the right approach - for now. Denard needs to stay at QB, at least until Devin is up to speed and can step in to play. But, I still believe that long term, Denard's future is at another position. IF he can catch the ball, probably receiver would be best because of his great open field running ability. Again, IF he can catch the ball, he'd probably be our best slot receiver. A 2nd choice would be DB. I don't think however, he'd be good at running back. If Coach Rod can get him on the field a lot more this season, we'll have a stronger offense. This will help make up for our inexperience and lack of depth at running back.