Quarterback Denard Robinson named Michigan football team's MVP in a close player vote
LIVONIA -- Denard Robinson has been described as a selfless leader by teammates and coaches.
That might help explain why the junior quarterback was named the Michigan football team's Bo Schembechler MVP, and why he did not prepare an acceptance speech.
"I thought Dave Molk or Mike Martin would win it," Robinson said.
Robinson won the award via a player vote that coach Brady Hoke said was "probably as close a vote as I've seen." It's the junior's second consecutive team MVP award.
The team's 10-2 season and Sugar Bowl bid -- it'll play Virginia Tech on Jan. 3 (8:30 p.m., ESPN) -- helped generate a festive atmosphere that had lacked for the past three busts, each of which had a lowlight, culminating in Rich Rodriguez's singing of Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up" at last year's event.
This year, there was no singing, but plenty of celebrating.
That includes honoring Robinson, who finished 133-for-237 passing (56.1 percent) for 2,056 yards, 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this year. He also rushed 208 times for 1,163 yards and 16 scores.He finished first in the Big Ten in total offense and third in touchdowns, despite transitioning to offensive coordinator Al Borges' "spread-West Coast" hybrid offense.
Hoke endorsed the MVP vote not because of Robinson's numbers, though, but because of his leadership.
Even in receiving his award, Robinson didn't say much, but did take time to apologize to his teammates for throwing so many interceptions.
The junior has started each of Michigan's 25 games the past two seasons, despite dealing with an assortment of injuries, including a staph infection that landed him in the hospital this year.
He kept it all quiet, refusing even to tell teammates.
"It affected me a lot in games and practices," Robinson said. "But, I kept pushing it because I knew my teammates would do the same for me. I had to be accountable."
The rest of the awards:
Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award (top offensive lineman): Senior center and captain David Molk continues to add to his postseason haul. He already won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top center, and was named the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year. Molk, a fifth-year senior, delivered an impassioned speech to close the seniors' series of statements.
"Unless you’ve been a fifth-year senior here, you don’t know (what we've been through)," he said. "You didn’t live it, you didn’t feel it, you didn’t see the pain, you didn’t hear the anguish, you didn’t hear the hate. There was a time we got booed by you guys, and that hurts.
"But the reality is, this is Michigan. We come back, and we never stop. We’re a team that recovers, we’re a team that continues and there’s nothing that can stop Michigan -- absolutely nothing in the world."
Roger Zatkoff Award (top linebacker): Junior Kenny Demens, who led Michigan with 86 tackles and was the only linebacker to start all 12 games.
Robert P. Ufer Bequest (senior with most love for U-M): Seniors Kevin Koger and Ryan Van Bergen. Koger, a tight end, had 21 catches for 235 yards and four touchdowns, all career highs. He was nicknamed "Hypeman 86" because of his vocal leadership, and was thanked by Robinson for helping to keep his head up during tough times.
Van Bergen, a defensive end, exploded onto the scene this year, recording by far his best season. He finished with 41 tackles, including 12 for loss and five sacks. He recovered three fumbles and forced another. He was not a captain, but acted like one for much of the season.
Richard Katcher Award (top defensive lineman): Senior defensive tackle Mike Martin, who won this award three times in a row to conclude his career. The captain had 54 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss and three sacks. His numbers weren't indicative of his play and leadership, though, as he often disrupted opposing offenses despite constant double-teams. He was a consensus second-team all-Big Ten player and is one of the strongest defensive linemen in the country.
Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Scholarship Award (top student): Senior defensive lineman Will Heininger, who is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference choice. A two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar who is enrolled in the School of Kinesiology, Heininger is majoring in sport management with a minor in economics. He started all 12 games this year, recording 23 tackles, including four for loss and one sack.
He hails from nearby Pioneer High School.