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Posted on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Russell Bellomy's no 'Shoelace,' but his QB aptitude and confidence has Michigan excited

By Nick Baumgardner


Michigan football quarterback Russell Bellomy has impressed coaches with his ability to learn quickly and play confident.

Melanie Maxwell |

In terms of star power, Russell Bellomy doesn't seem to fit in with his colleagues.

When reporters and photographers were ushered into Al Glick Field House on Sunday for the Michigan football team's annual media day, a small open door framed a portrait of who, exactly, people were there to see.

Standing outside in the bright sunshine for a photo shoot was senior quarterback Denard Robinson, sporting his trademark smile and long flowing dreadlocks, and junior signal-caller Devin Gardner, who accompanied his freshly cut mohawk with a slick pair of sunglasses.

Robinson and Gardner have done this before, they know the drill.

Some 50 feet inside the building, cautiously taking questions from a handful of reporters for the first time ever at Michigan was Bellomy.

There were no sunglasses. No mohawk. No ear-to-ear grin.

"We're all different quarterbacks with our own game," Bellomy says after being asked to compare himself to Robinson and Gardner. "We all have our own strengths and our own weaknesses.

"I can't really think of anything to compare us with."

Bellomy admits it. He's nothing like the two players who currently sit in front of him on the depth chart.

But as far as Michigan is concerned, that's just fine. No one inside Schembechler Hall is asking Bellomy to fall in line with his uber-athletic, uber-photogenic teammates.

They're just asking him to be himself. And so far, that seems plenty good enough.

"Russ is bright, and he's kind of a 'tell him once' guy," Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "You tell him once, he'll fix a mistake.

"I won't say that he's mastered every possibility in every pass play or run play, but he's marked some checks off that list. ... He's done a nice job."

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Bellomy is currently the team's No. 3 quarterback. But asked whether or not he'd be comfortable placing him in a game right now, Borges quickly says he would.

Bellomy's extended spring-game audition seemed to serve two purposes for the Wolverines. The first was furthering the development of the redshirt freshman signal-caller.

The second? An informal tryout to see whether or not he could handle being Robinson's backup long enough for Gardner to split his reps at wide receiver.

"That's the way we worked it, that's how we did it," Borges said. "There was a domino effect that goes with Devin playing wide receiver, and one of those dominoes is making sure you have enough quarterbacks.

"So we had to focus on getting three of them ready."

After going 6-for-9 through the air in the spring game (an experience he calls "surreal"), and proving he had enough mobility to run the full compliment of Borges' pro-spread-hybrid offense, Bellomy's main focus this summer was improving his arm strength and tightening up his footwork.

He spent plenty of time with strength coach Aaron Wellman, and focused heavily on shoulder work to improve his overall velocity. He studied tape, focused on his feet and did anything else the staff asked him to do.

No matter what.

"I'll be whatever (Borges) wants me to be," Bellomy says bluntly. "I have the ability to run, but I can also drop back.

"I'll mold into whatever quarterback he wants me to be."

So far this preseason, Bellomy's progress has continued. He says the coaching staff's show of good faith in the spring has pushed his confidence to an all-time high, and day by day, he's becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of being a reliable college quarterback.

Something teammates have taken notice of.

"He’s doing really well," Gardner said. "He’s getting the ball out faster and things like that. He’s reading defenses. And I’ve seen him scrambling a little bit too, and I like to see that."

Bellomy may never draw the type of crowd Robinson does, and he'll certainly never beat him in a sprint.

He's not likely going to run over people like Gardner, and there's a good chance his athleticism won't force the coaches to try him at different positions.

But that's fine by him.

Michigan might need a new backup quarterback this season. And just about everyone inside the football complex is confident Bellomy can answer that bell.

"I'm confident, but I have a lot of room to grow," Bellomy says humbly. "I got some experience in the spring game, but that was minute compared to a full season.

"I've got a lot to learn."

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:58 a.m.

Your all insane if you think Denard shouldn't be the QB of this team. Bellomy looks to be a solid back up, but there are few players in the NCAA as dangerous as Denard. Don't take what he has done for granted.


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

The 2012 Mad Magicians Redux! Borges, let em loose on Bama.

Terry Star21

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

I agree with Nick, that the transformation of Gardner as receiver helped with the new confidence in Bellomy (as possible backup QB). From what I have seen and heard, Russel possess a strong and accurate arm and therefore I coincide he only lacks game day experience. It's very conceivable this kid could start on half (or more) of the Big Ten teams. MgoBlueForTiM... Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche - which to use ?


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.

Man, those cars are a long shot from the cars I've called my own... '85 Chevy Nova, '86 Dodge Omni, '89 Toyota Corolla, '01 Toyota Prius. I know next to nothing about Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Porsches... which one is the most reliable?

Steve McQueen

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

Porsche, as long as it is an air cooled one.

Steve McQueen

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

Russ is an explosive athlete. Check out his highlight film and his work out tapes over no youtube. He is very underrated with his athleticism. He also is very accurate with throwing the ball. Accuracy is the most important attribute that a QB can have, particularly in a West Coast passing offense. Dont underestimate Bellomy's potential to be a starter at Michigan, even with Morris coming in next year. Morris currently does not have the natural accuracy that Bellomy has...he is that good.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

Good article. My take is that Michigan's schedule this season will require two back up QBs. Unfortunately, the schedual this season is so demanding that the chance of injury, to any starter on the Maize and Blue squad would have a high impact on the team's ability to win games or have control on either side of the ball. I am comfortable with the QB depth chart of Devin at number 2 and Russell at number 3. Maybe we can see Russell play at lot against U-Mass.

Terry Star21

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

That's good Nick. How about we have a Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche in our Wolverine garage ?

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

The idea here is simple: If Gardner ends up becoming a legitimate threat at wide receiver, there's a chance he starts spending more time working there and less at QB. If that happens, Michigan needs a reliable backup for Robinson in case he gets hurt (which we all know is a possibility). The staff's confidence in Bellomy was a huge part of the Gardner experiment. They might not have even tinkered with the idea if that wasn't the case.

Dennis Stover

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Bellomy at QB, Shoelace in the slot, and Gardner at WO - modern day version of Chrisler's "Mad Magicians"- that would be fun. Perhaps we will see it tested against UMass?

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

I don't think you'll see anything tested against UMass. Remember, all of those special packages were used during Big Ten play. No sense emptying your bag of tricks on a non-league opponent not named Alabama or Notre Dame.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Question for everyone; if we had the depth and eligibility wasn't a concern, would you support this scenario? I think it would be nice to see Russell play and place Denard in the backfield, it would add some explosiveness to the offense. Then maybe even slide DG out to the flanks to give us the needed size at the WR position.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 8:55 a.m.

I think Denard needs to be the QB for this team. He may have struggled passing last year but I am confident that he will improve this year. if he does he has so much potential. He doesn't have to become a great passer, only an effective one. If that happens he will have a great year and UM will too. People are quick to forget how much he has carried this team over the last few years. He could be one of the most dynamic players in the league with only a moderate improvement in the passing game. I look forward to watching him silence his critics this year and bringing UM back to the BCS.


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

Can we please, please put the "let's move Denard to a different position" nonsense to rest before the season starts? Taking the ball out of Denard's hands DOES NOT "add some explosiveness to the offense."

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

That's a pretty intense package, Mass! Certainly this would never be a full-time situation. But you never know. Al Borges has said he's looking to expand on his 'Deuce Package' from last season. Story here:


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Might happen in a play or two against UMass or any team Michigan might be way ahead before half time. I don't see it as serious threat. The duce play (Gardner and Robinson lining up) Borges ran several times last season was less than spectacular, but practice makes perfect.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

I think its a novel idea Mass...but I just dont see Denard being able to stand up to the hits on a routine basis that most running backs would have to endour.

Wolverine Man

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

Yea I thought about Russell at QB, Rawls at FB, Fitz at RB, Denard at slot, Devin at wideout, Roundtree at flanker.