- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson very well might be healthy enough to throw a football by the time the Wolverines play in a bowl game, likely on New Year’s Day.
Where the senior plays the final game of his career, though, is not nearly as set in stone.
“I would think he would play quarterback, maybe wideout, maybe running back,” Wolverines coach Brady Hoke said Monday.
This is probably the best possible scenario for all people involved as well. It allows Robinson, whose future earning potential in the NFL is as a slot receiver, running back, Wildcat quarterback and kick/punt returner, fully to display his skills and perhaps help his draft stock by showing what he can do after a month of practice.
Consider, despite having just two receptions for 24 yards in his college career, Robinson is graded as the No. 8 wide receiver in the 2013 NFL Draft and No. 62 player overall, mostly based on his potential.
If he can show production as a pass catcher to go with it, it could make him even more attractive and intriguing before senior all-star bowl games and the NFL combine.
For junior Devin Gardner, this gives him another opportunity to build on the momentum he has created for himself over the final month of the regular season, where he has established himself as Michigan’s quarterback of the future. This also will benefit the Wolverines’ top two wide receivers, Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon, both of whom have had renaissance moments in November with Gardner throwing them passes.
This is probably best for Michigan’s future offense as well. Offensive coordinator Al Borges is a pro-style play-caller by trade, and being able to work with Gardner during December as a primary quarterback would only be a benefit to the Wolverines in 2013, when they will have to replace at least three offensive linemen, Roundtree and still might have issues at running back depending on the health of injured starter Fitzgerald Toussaint.
“He’s going to have to compete and earn it,” Hoke said. “But he’s done a good job with what we’ve asked him to do this year.”
So moving Robinson around -- more like Michigan did against Iowa and not how it did against Ohio State -- is in the Wolverines’ best interests. Michigan’s offense was extremely effective against the Hawkeyes, as they had to pay added attention to Robinson wherever he lined up.
Michigan went away from that against the Buckeyes, mostly sticking with Robinson at quarterback, to limited success. Hoke said Monday that the reason Gardner and Robinson weren’t on the field at the same time more often had to do with “the timing of it,” and how things are run in the course of a game.
Plus, Hoke said while Robinson can throw the ball, he doesn’t have the spin he would like to be able to put on the ball nor does he have the confidence to throw it at this time.
Another month, though, gives Robinson a chance to heal fully and Borges more opportunities to tinker with everything for one last flourish in Robinson’s college career.
“There’s an opportunity to expand it more, maybe,” Hoke said. “On some of the two quarterback things.”
That could be good for Michigan against whatever team it faces in a bowl -- and for the future of the Wolverines.