Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez: Denard Robinson still a quarterback, but will play elsewhere this spring
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 AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.