October 8th 2009. We are here in Ann Arbor to celebrate another year of Michigan football. 100,000+ of our closest friends are here for opening day against Western Michigan. After a disappointing 3-9 season the year before, the air was nervous. Was Michigan football now comparable to a MAC school? Surely WMU wouldn't come in and take apart Michigan in our own house. That was hardly the case.
If you were watching at home, the folks at ESPN dropped his high school nickname on the air. Here comes "Shoelace". This gangly freshman who didn't tie his shoes? Great.
At the time, freshman quarterback Tate Forcier lead the team to a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. Michigan would get the ball back to see a new quarterback out on the field, Denard Robinson.The ESPN commentators quotes Rich Rodriguez saying that this kid was just too good to redshirt. It had me intrigued, I was ready. Robinson gets in the shotgun and sets. He gets the snap, but fumbles it to the groan of the Big House. What happened next is something that sticks with you forever.
World, meet Denard Robinson. He is here to stay.
The legend of Shoelace seemed to grow stagnant his freshman year. As all of the magic seemed to be transferred over to the new golden boy, Tate Forcier. The Forcier love wouldn't last long as there was a new sheriff in town.
It's the dawn of a new football season in 2012. UCONN comes to town facing a first-time starting quarterback in Denard Robinson, which once again struck fear into the hearts of many Michigan fans. Did Denard Robinson have what it takes to lead this team to victory? Yep. Denard threw for 187 yards and a touchdown and also amassed almost 200 yards rushing with another touchdown. This type of performance is the beginning of how legends are born. The next Saturday, Robinson went from campus hero to campus legend overnight.
87 yards. All 87 of them was the longest run in Notre Dame Stadium history. All done by a quarterback at Michigan that no one has ever seen before. To top it all off, Robinson drove the team down 72 yards late in the fourth quarter to steal a victory away from the Fighting Irish all while amassing over 500 yards of total offense by himself. All of this and he's just a Sophomore? Could this guy be what was missing for the Rich Rodriguez offense? What could possibly be Superman's kryptonite.
Well, the answer came in the form of late season Big Ten opponents. After undefeated starts to open two straight seasons, Michigan only fizzled out when it came down to face Ohio State. The woes continued. Robinson couldn't stay healthy during games and had to leave. It was bedlam in Ann Arbor.
Robinson never gave up. He came back to Michigan ready to lead and he has done just that.
September 10th 2011. Michigan Stadium was lit up for the first time ever. So were the Wolverines as Notre Dame seemed to have a good hold on them. There's eight seconds left, Robinson drops back and delivers a pass... and the rest was history.
November 26th 2011. Denard Robinson plays in what is arguably the best game of his career. Michigan finally rids themselves of the stench of losing to Ohio State for so many years. Robinson threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Also, compiling 170 yards on the ground with another touchdown.
October 20th 2012. Though the game wasn't pretty by any means, the losing streak was over. Michigan State had finally fallen to Michigan. Robinson defeated his biggest rivals and eliminated any preexisting losing streaks that haunted the program.
November 16th 2012. This is the day the fans say goodbye. A final tribute to the four years of blood, guts and glory Denard Robinson has given to the program. It's Senior Day. A day where Robinson may not even get to play because he is sidelined with an elbow injury.
So, with that being said, this is really it. This is goodbye, Denard. If he never took another snap at Michigan. His stats would be as follows:
6250 yards passing with 49 touchdowns. 4175 yards rushing with 41 touchdowns.
He's a legend in his own right. Denard Robinson is our quarterback, forever our leader. He took this program in it's weakest time and made it his beacon of hope. With a simple smile that could light up the Big House and a happy-go-lucky attitude, you won over the hearts of fans all over the nation. Michigan football is back in the spotlight, back in the national conversation. Maybe Michigan never did leave. But Denard Robinson, we owe a lot to you.
No matter what, one thing will always remain true.
Denard Robinson. Forever number sixteen.