ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The shoelaces are still untied, but the quarterback who stands in the black Adidas shoes is different than the wide-eyed freshman who arrived four years ago.
Denard Robinson has grown to be a strength of the eighth-ranked team in the country, and it's not just because of his legs anymore.
"Having a senior quarterback is a plus because he's been in the big games and the tough situations," head coach Brady Hoke said.
Two years as the full-time starting quarterback have served Robinson well in the experience department. Entering his third campaign as the signal-caller, he has grown more comfortable in his untied shoes.
"I've played a lot of football here, so I feel like I should have an advantage over guys. I should be able to help the team out a little bit more," Robinson said.
His career in Ann Arbor has already been marked with incredible moments. Conversely, there have been confounding inconsistencies. Robinson hasn't let a moment pass without learning from it all.
"I got a scrapbook. I've been collecting newspapers I've been in since I was in college. I do that because one day when I get older I want to be able to tell my kids and show them I accomplished some things."
Already, that scrapbook is seemingly filled to a point of overflow. But not in Robinson's eyes.
"I am proud of myself, but I feel like I got a long ways to go," he explained.
The 21-year old is aware of the long-standing criticisms thrown his way. He knows his shortcomings, and worked on fine-tuning those aspects of his game this offseason.
"He's still gonna throw a ball of his back foot now and then. He still shouldn't throw a ball over the middle late, but he's improved. I'm really proud of him," Hoke said.
Defensive end Craig Roh said he's caught Robinson only a few times in practice this summer, and he knows it's not because Robinson has lost a step.
"I think I've gotten faster...but as the guy who chases him every day, it always amazes you how fast he is," Roh said.
When the Wolverines line up against the Alabama September 1, the task will be difficult. The Crimson Tide may very well have the fastest defense in the land.
It's a good thing Michigan has speed on its side, too.
"Oh my god, Denard Robinson. He's one of the fastest guys in college football. It doesn't matter how fast your defense is," running back Thomas Rawls said.
Win or lose in that opener, that scrapbook Robinson's been keeping will undoubtedly get a little thicker.
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