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Posted on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Denard Robinson's path on Michigan football team mirrors Pat White's at West Virginia

By Pete Bigelow


The comparisons started before Denard Robinson took his first snap for the Michigan football team. They intensified after he looked like a dual-threat against Connecticut in the season opener.

When Robinson became the ninth quarterback in NCAA history to rush and pass for more than 200 yards in a game against Notre Dame, there was no avoiding it. Robinson looks like a Pat White clone.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said, comparing Michigan’s current quarterback to the one who beat him four times at West Virginia.

“There are a lot of similarities,” said Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who coached White three of his four years with the Mountaineers. Both held the same role as the nerve center of Rodriguez’s spread offense, responsible for throwing the football as well as they run it, but their similarities go beyond the balance of speed and accuracy.

They start with the premise that they are athletes first, quarterbacks second.

Most schools recruited White out of Daphne, Ala., to play receiver or cornerback, the same way most recruited Robinson, now a sophomore, to play the same positions out of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

To some extent, that made sense. Robinson grew up mimicking the moves of Florida State receiver Peter Warrick, and White liked following Michigan’s Charles Woodson.

But like Robinson, he had only one intention.

“I wanted to play quarterback,” White said Wednesday. “I was determined to give it a shot and see how far I could go with it.”

For White, that meant foregoing a six-figure signing bonus from the Anaheim Angels, who had drafted White as an outfield prospect.

One of the few coaches willing to give White a shot to play quarterback was Rodriguez, then coaching at West Virginia.

“He gave me an opportunity not many people were looking to give me,” White said.

By the mid-point of his freshman season, White looked ready to play. He made his first start against UConn - same as Robinson - and threw for 106 yards and a touchdown while running for 63 and two more scores.

Over the course of his career, he started 40 games, ran for 4,480 yards, a record for a Football Bowl Division quarterback, and threw for 6,049 yards. He scored 47 rushing touchdowns and threw for 56.

In two games, Robinson has done his best impersonation of White, who rushed for 220 yards and passed for 204 against Pitt in 2006.

“This is what Rich did when he played him at West Virginia with Pat White,” Edsall said. “I’m not saying that he’s Pat White, because Pat was pretty good. But with time, I think this young man will have a chance to become a very good quarterback.”

Against UConn, Robinson ran for 197 and passed for 186. Against Notre Dame, he joined White in the 200-200 club, rushing for 258 and throwing for 244. Saturday, Michigan (2-0) plays host to Massachusetts (2-0) at noon (Big Ten Network).

“It’s exciting to see the offense I ran successful after I’m out of it,” White said. On Robinson, White said, “He is a beast. I mean, that’s all you can say. He’s doing amazing things up there.”

While Robinson’s career is on the upswing, White is, at the very least, currently taking a break.

At the same time Robinson ripped apart UConn in the season opener, the Miami Dolphins released White, their second-round draft pick in 2009. And at the same time Robinson faced Notre Dame, White signed a contract to play baseball with the Kansas City Royals.

He’ll report to the minors and play in the Arizona fall league. It’s the first time he’s played baseball since high school in 2004.

“I enjoy competing and love both games,” White said. “Right now, I’m excited about being able to swing the bat, hitting live balls and competing in baseball for a while.”

Given all their similarities, it would be fair if White’s short stint in the NFL as a wildcat quarterback made Robinson skeptical of his long-term chances at quarterback.

But the Michigan quarterback isn’t fazed by the comparisons. “You could say he is the same thing they listed me as,” Robinson said Monday. “An athlete.”

Pete Bigelow can be reached at (734) 623-2556 or e-mailed at Follow him on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


John Ramirez

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 10:22 p.m.

Denard Robinson for Heisman.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 8:11 p.m.

Great, Think positive about a new head football coach. I think coach Harbaugh would be a positive.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

if we keep playing the way we have been and we don't have any more injuries it's very possible. i alway's try to think positive and keep the negativity out of any thought process... GO BLUE...


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

47, Are you saying we are going to win 10 games this season?


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

8 more wins to a great season... just do the math, 2+8=10 wins or more... not to hard to figure out... GO BLUE...


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

Come on in a few more seasons RR will have us up to that awesome level of WV football. He just needs to schedule like at WV and play 2 top 25 teams a season then we will be great. Then everyone will have heard of Mi because we were nothing before he got here. RR beats 2 unranked teams and we are back and the heisman is on the way. Reality check: 3-13 against the Big Ten. If the supporters were real Mi fans they would not accept this coach and what he has done to our program.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

What do you win for being 2-0?

Steve Pepple

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

A comment was removed because it contained a personal attack against another commenter.


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 6:12 a.m.

I'm just curious, did any of you complainers notice that the, Michigan Wolverines are 2-0?


Fri, Sep 17, 2010 : 12:50 a.m.

hate hate hatehate hate hate hate hateat the end of the season Shoelaces will have the Heisman; the haters will have new user names, no where will the hate be found.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:46 p.m.

By the way, if you guys play NCAA Football 11 with realistic sliders and 8 minute quarters on All-American and edit Denard to ~89 overall, increasing his speed, acceleration, elusiveness, carrying, injury, and accuracy a little bit (realistically): He will win the Heisman. At least if you're me. Denard's season numbers: [Passing] 198/317 | 4261 yards | 28 TD | 7 Int [Running] 241 carries | 1928 yards | 18 TD 46 total TD's, over 6,000 yards of total offense. Had over 2,000 points in the Heisman vote. Oh yeah, we went 12-1 and beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Finished #4 in the country. My only loss was to Notre Dame, believe it or not. Just couldn't stop them for some reason. Wisconsin was #1 and undefeated when I played them, but even beating them only got me to #6 in the rankings. The Buckeyes had 2 losses when I played them, never checked who they lost to. Oh well, doesn't matter since it was a video game. :(

3 And Out

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:38 p.m.

spin spin spin...spin spin spin spin to us at the end of the season after D Rob has faced real Big Ten defenses in that gimmick offense.

Sean T.

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:36 p.m.

Trueblue, at the combine only Stafford and some other small school QB threw farther than Pat White, so that being said, if Denard's arm is that strong...he's got a hell of a future going for him! Nathan, Eric Crouch is bigger than Denard Robinson. 6 Ft. 210lbs. He was basically a tailback with his strong build. Not that it matters but Denard looks 5'11 standing next to Molk who is 6"2. Go Blue


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:33 p.m.

I love Michigan, but I think it's important to monitor our expectations. I don't care what anyone says, Denard put up these numbers against quality opponents. They certainly weren't FCS teams, so let's drop that out of the discussion. As for monitoring our expectations, Denard isn't going to put up these numbers every game. First of all, I doubt he even gets 10 carries per game over the next couple. Rich Rod should make sure Denard is 110% for the Big Ten season. I love what Denard has done and can do, but I'm only being realistic. The Heisman means nothing all we need is wins, so I expect Denard to "tone it down" for a couple of games. As for you "haters" out there, no words can describe how funny everything you write is to me. How you can have such contempt for a program is beyond me. There's no logical course for your actions, you will simply hate Michigan until the end and draw every possible negative conclusion you can about the program; and that's hilarious to me. You should spend your time supporting the program you cheer for rather than bashing ours. But I'm only whistling into the wind with that one.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:02 p.m.

Lemans - this is our offense for the foreseeable future. Get used to it. It actually is very fun to watch, if you'd simply allow yourself to enjoy it. We've only seen the offense on training wheels. The O line will jell as the weeks roll on and we'll see a bunch of big plays every week.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:51 p.m.

Yeah, I think Mi football should strive to be just like WV I meen they had such a great football program. I really like the way they played top 25 teams 18 times in 7 seasons what a schedule. That is such a great idea to be just like Wv and all those undeafeted seasons in the Big East and let's not forget all those National championship seasons because they played 2 top 25 teams a season...yea we should be just like them because they had such a better program than we did. What has happened to Mi football we look just like WV...UGH


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:45 p.m.

Sorry I am getting wordy but for you M football fans: Not sure if its big news, but Michigan football equipment manager Jon Falk has put out a book, "If These Walls Could Talk." Great book about Michigan football by a long time insider. Great book.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:42 p.m.

There are a lot of games on Saturday Lemans, here are a few that you might be interested in: Ohio @ Ohio State Noon EST Big Ten Network Notre Dame @ Michigan State 8PM EST ABC Wake Forest @ Standford 11:15PM EST ESPN2 Miss State @ LSU 7PM EST ESPNU Maybe you're just longing for the good ole days of John Navarre.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:34 p.m.

Nothing like the good ole qb draw 25 times a game I meen the way the center hikes the ball up to the qb and then the qb runs that is so exciting I cannot stand it. High school football at it's best!


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:16 p.m.

Mick52 completely agree. This offense is so much fun to watch. I'm looking forward to the backs and receivers getting healthy and starting to flow in the offense. Seriously, this offense is only running on about four of it's eight cylinders. When they get it all working together, it will be scary and that will only help the defense.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:09 p.m.

@JamesLucas I was thinking the same thing when I read Cedar's um...Nick Saben.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 8:58 p.m.

That said, my favorite thing about DRob. I love the way he is able to fake a pass and fake a run, and totally discombobulate a defense. He did it once v Conn and twice against ND, all three times passing to a streaking WR cutting across the middle. The defenses are so scared of his running ability they react to his moves, forgetting the rest of the offense long enough for a long breakaway. Superb. Also kudos to the O line. DR is getting holes to run through and I think the line deserves more credit than they are getting. That DR is quick enough to squeeze through before the holes close is all DR. Also I see great down field blocking. This is so far a great offensive unit and I think the whole gang deserves more credit. Receivers are doing a good job of catching the ball. But Defense Wins Ballgames.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 8:51 p.m.

Nobowlblues, sure I watched. Did you read my post? I didn't say anything about the defense's performance, I said success will depend on it. But I will comment. I like the defensive lines performance. I thought they did well. One long break away play was bad. Its folly to say what might have happened had Crist stayed in. You can't assume the results would be any different. Also I seem to recall that he came back. Did you watch he game? They still lost with him back in the game. If I were a twit, I could say that had we not missed two field goals, the outcome would be the same. Even one field goal. Again, folly. The fact is the team won and I think improved. I like the exciting offense, but I like exciting defense more. I expect improvement game by game as the players can see where they booted the pooch on bad plays. MSU is going to have a tough time with ND this weekend. ND is playing for its season since they are independent and have only one championship to play for. Two losses to M and MSU are death to ND football. After state, Stanford. They should play in the Big East. Go Blue, win the Big Ten, go to the Rose Bowl. Defense wins ballgames.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 8:34 p.m.

Check your history, coaches for Michigan retire coaches for Michigan State move on.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 4:38 p.m.

again your post make's no sense... so just because WHITE diden't get a trophy or a title your logic is DR will not get any of that??? and the only thing that WHITE and DR have in common is RR??? DR is already projected to do much better then WHITE... oop's you probably diden't watch the last two games... my mistake... stay tuned for as the (bowl) turns... GO BLUE...


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

The haters will not go away until we put a serious pounding on Sparty. Looking forward to both in about a month. Can't imagine the mindset of a person that feels the need to be here on a regular basis for the sole purpose of antagonization. Scary.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

Dont know what game some people watching but is our defense great by any means i will say no.But they made plays when they had too.Even when ND's starting qb was in the second half we held them to 3 points on 5 possesions, so to say we didnt deserve to win is bogus if you even throw in the game winning drive.And its funny when people say Uconn and ND where no good but most the people saying that now are the same ones that said we would lose those games.I also remember a man named Crouch from Nebraska who was smaller than DR and took home the trophy.So perception does not equal proof that DR cant do what hes doing all season.We will see.But no one can deny we have a special person behind center and as Drob said in his press conference "I really dont care what people say about me,Im all in for michigan"...are you?


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 2:56 p.m.

Mick52 What defense? Did you watch last weeks game. If Crist doesn't go down then the game ends differently.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 2:49 p.m.

It is way too early to be talking Heisman trophy. Maybe midway through the season if the stats continue to be impressive. I agree that the real test won't come up until game five, at Indiana who will be playing its fourth game, the first against a significant team. We beat In last year and Michigan has improved more than In I believe. So the MSU game will be big. Crucial. The Test. And then we should have a good idea as to whether or not we should start whispering Heisman. Too bad that one mucked up game can ruin a Heisman run and for us the muckiest game is probably the last one. I reckon it will take maintaining very stats and a win over osu for DR to be Heisman worthy. Could happen but it a tough road. Overall, Michigan's success will depend on the defense, and I expect improvement, at least that they don't make the same mistakes over and over, because of course,defense wins ballgames.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 2:46 p.m.

Sean T. - all due respect but Denard has a stronger arm than White. I've lots of tape on White so I have a good basis for comparison. Denard can throw it on a frozen rope. The downfield passes haven't had to be strong this season because the WR's have been wide open for the most part.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

Give him the trophy like White got....oops White never got one. Give him a title like White got.....oops he never got one of those either. The only thing they will have in common is Rich Rod LOL LOL LOL can't wait until the 2nd half. LOL LOL

Ted Bundy

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 1:20 p.m.

bogie- You sound like a broken record. All my MSU friends and UM haters said "Uconn will beat UM, Uconn is good!". Well ironically after UM beat them all of a sudden "Uconn is horrible, you beat a scrub". Then ND came along and people were saying "ND is gonna beat UM in South Bend" and "Denard is gonna get hurt, he cant run the ball that many times". Well the prostyle QB got hurt instead of the spread-option QB, and all of a sudden "ND is horrible, you beat a scrub". Make up your mind haters...

Sean T.

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

Pat White was the better passer because of his strong arm and accuracy. But Robinson is faster and has a second gear like no other. I believe that Denard will have to shoulder more of the load than Pat White and durability is going to be the question mark until time reveals it. On to next week!


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

And I believe both Pat White and D-Rob were 3 star recruits.


Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

Theo, John. You guys are hiliarous! Denard is a great athlete, but really?! He has played UCONN AND NOTRE DAME! He'll get a bunch on Bowing Green, but I think the heismann train runs off the rails after that. Michigan's schedule has been "light." Michigan football needs to stop acting like Notre Dame. ND plays a powder puff schedule, with 2 strong programs (Michigan-questionable and USC), and expects a BCS bid. Their outrageous, and you guys are close. Point 1. Michigan has no defense. Point 2. Michigan has not played anyone, with any kind of defense. Point 3. Finally, Rich Rod can't win the big game. The only reason why UM hired Rich Rod, was because he lost to Pitt. Come back and talk to me, in a month.

Ted Bundy

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:41 a.m.

theo my man, I love the enthusiasm but put the brakes on for a minute. First off, who cares about Heisman awards? All UM fans should be caring about is W's. UM is alltime leader in wins but we really dont get much respect. Most people downplay our wins and say "you won all the games back in the leather helmet days". And we are not the greatest team in the history of sports. We are one of the most storied programs in sports, to be fair to all the other great sports teams out there. We are 10-16 in the past 2+ seasons, dont forget. I bleed maize and blue too buddy, but lets focus on Umass. One game at a time. GO BLUE!

John Ramirez

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

There is a Denard for Heisman site now.