- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Detroit Lions reporter
Troy Woolfolk understands the mechanics of sprinting. He also understands how fast his former teammate Denard Robinson is.
Yet Woolfolk laughed Monday when told about Robinson's claim to Fox Sports Detroit at Michigan's media day on Sunday that he could beat reigning 100-meter and 200-meter world record holder Usain Bolt in a 40-yard dash.
Robinson admitted he'd lose a 100-meter race with the Jamaican sprinter and doubted his competitive level at 60 yards, but in the 40, Robinson was confident.
Woolfolk, however, explained why a Robinson win would be unlikely to happen. He would know. During his first two years at Michigan, Woolfolk also was a sprinter on the Wolverines' track team, being named first-team All-Big Ten his freshman season in 2008.
Woolfolk was presented the Bolt vs. Robinson question without any stipulations over track vs. grass or starting blocks vs. standing. Just a straight-up race.
“People think that football speed is the same thing as track speed. That is the most false statement ever to be written. Denard, fortunately, has both types of speed, but the speed we are talking about is on a completely different level,” Woolfolk said after his own track workout in Texas on Monday. “In college, Denard can hang out with anybody in a 40-meter but on a professional level, against someone who is running times that no other human has run before, not only would I say no, I’d say hell no.”
Woolfolk has an informed opinion. As a freshman at Michigan, he ran a 10.58 100-meter dash at the Big Ten championships and finished sixth in the conference. As a sophomore, before he gave up track, the former Wolverines defensive back ran a 6.86-second 60-meter dash.
Plus, track is his passion.
But what of Bolt’s alleged slow starts?
“That’s another misconception,” Woolfolk said. “When you say Bolt doesn’t get the best start, you’re comparing it to other people who have those starts. Compared to them, he may not get the best starts but compared to a regular human, it’s still going to be a good start.
“The best scenario Denard could hope for is to start equal with him. If he’s equal with him, it is already over after that.”
Woolfolk wasn’t doubting his former teammate -- he just understands how fast Bolt really is. Woolfolk also understands for another reason: He’s back training himself.
Still in his native Texas, Woolfolk started to have an urge to return to track a month ago, around the same time football started to fade. Still hampered with cuts and turns, he discovered his straight-line speed remained, so about a month ago he started to train with track workouts again.
“I feel like I at least went after my football dreams but my true passion is track and I gave that up after my freshman year,” Woolfolk said. “So I’m trying to get back in track shape and who knows, you might see me at the next Olympics in Rio 2016.”
Woolfolk wasn’t being facetious. He has been training daily in an attempt to see what his body can handle and if he can reach faster speeds than when he last took track seriously in 2008 and the start of 2009.
Woolfolk has four years, so he wants to see where his new athletic venture might take him.
“It’s kind of a bad time because track season is starting to end now so I want to get back in shape and see how my body feels,” Woolfolk said. “Then I just want to see if I still got it and maintain getting in shape by next year’s track season and go from there, go to some all-comers meets and see the times I post up.”
Troy Woolfolk understands the mechanics of sprinting. He also understands how fast his former teammate Denard Robinson is.Yet Woolfolk laughed Monday when told about Robinson's claim to Fox Sports Detroit at Michigan's media day on Sunday that he could beat reigning 100-meter and 200-meter world record holder Usain Bolt in a 40-yard dash.