March 22, 2012

Robinson is ready to lead

Denard Robinson has the message down pat. He knows the numbers, knows the directive, and doesn't blink when reciting precisely what he needs to improve upon this fall.

"I play quarterback," Robinson said Thursday night. "The number one thing about a quarterback is, always take care of the ball. That's one of the things I need to stop doing - turnovers. I had 15 interceptions. That's not acceptable as a quarterback. That's something I need to work on."

The rising senior also knows exactly why he made some of those mistakes.

"I was throwing off my back foot," Robinson assessed. "That's one of the things that got me in a lot of trouble. I need to stay away from that. Making the right reads - that's one of the things I need to work on too. All offseason, I've been watching film and seeing reads I should have made and touchdowns that I missed. This year, hopefully I won't have that many mistakes."

Teammate Roy Roundtree sees Robinson doing a lot of things better in the four days of spring practice so far. From simple huddle communication to the mechanics of playing quarterback in Al Borges' offensive system, Roundtree has witnessed the veteran quarterback get better.

It doesn't hurt, the receiver said, that everyone has been in the same offense for a year now.

"The timing is there," Roundtree said. "He's making better reads, and staying composed back there. He knows the offense, and it's fluent. Practice goes smooth, and I'm not seeing him frustrated back there. I really see that he's composed.

"He's reading the defenses well. You can actually hear the play fluent in the huddle. I say all the time, he's so country you can hardly hear him, but now that we've been in the offense for a year, I actually like listening to him better."

Robinson laughed over the communication issue. He admits to delivering the play calls in a more understandable fashion, and has an ally in new U-M center Ricky Barnum, a fifth-year senior and fellow Sunshine State native.

"I've been snapping with Ricky since RichRod was here," Robinson noted, assuring that there have been no exchange issues. "I've been snapping with him since my freshman year. Ricky is one of the guys from Florida, so we can relate to each other.

"He helps me out in the huddle. He tells the other linemen, this is the play. Where [David] Molk and Patrick [Omameh] used to get on me all the time, Ricky will help me out."

Meanwhile, Robinson noted he's taking more of a leadership role, encouraging teammates, asserting himself more vocally, and even getting on fellow Wolverines when necessary.

Met with a skeptical response in regard to his ability to be the bad guy, Robinson assured it's possible.

"Sometimes, you've got to get up in them … you can't always be nice," he said. "I can't always have a smile on my face."

Then he broke out into a huge smile, drawing a chuckle from the assembled media.

Robinson acknowledged enjoying a busy offseason, taking in everything from sporting events to a gathering featuring President Barack Obama. The U-M quarterback still acts like he can't quite believe the position he finds himself in.

"I am a student, and being part of that student body is one of the best experiences I could ever experience on this campus," he said. "Being in the Maize Rage in the basketball game, or being at the hockey game, being at the track, watching the girls run - that was one of the things I could never stay away from. I love watching sports, and I love watching the people I know do better."

Getting a shout out from the President wasn't bad either, he admitted.

"That's one of the days I'm going to be sitting down and telling my grandkids, 'I've got a story for you all. I met the President.' That's one of the things I'll always remember and I'll always cherish," Robinson marveled.

"As soon as I got done meeting him, I called my mom, my dad and my brothers. I was telling them, 'I just met the President. I just met the President of the United States.'"

Some he encounters every day act the same way when they cross his path. There aren't many places he can go in Ann Arbor without drawing some attention, and along with that comes a time investment.

He doesn't reject that responsibility, or act like he's put out over it. In fact, he noted, he embraces it.

"I enjoy interacting with people," Robinson said. "That's one of the things I always enjoy. I come from a big family, and meeting people is not a problem with me. I love everybody. If I see anybody on the street, I want to say hi to you. My goal is to make somebody's day every day."

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