Michigan Wolverines: Mike Hart

[+] EnlargeBraxton Miller
AP Photo/Tony DingBraxton Miller was fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting as a sophomore in 2012 and was ninth in 2013.
Braxton Miller has a chance to make Big Ten history this season by winning his third straight conference player-of-the-year award and by earning Heisman votes for the third consecutive season.

Of course, he’s not the only Big Ten player to ever enter his senior year with big expectations. In the past 20 years, six other conference players earned Heisman votes before their final seasons and were preseason candidates a season later. (Thirteen non-seniors in all earned votes, but seven left early for the NFL draft. Another, Northwestern's Damien Anderson, played in just eight games the season after and isn't listed below.)

Although it’s still anyone’s guess exactly how Miller will fare this season, here’s a look at players who found themselves in similar positions and how they performed in the season after receiving Heisman votes:




Wisconsin RB Montee Ball, 2011, junior

Heisman votes as a junior: 22 first-place votes; finished fourth overall. Led the nation with 1,923 rushing yards (6.3 yards per carry) and also finished with an NCAA-best 33 rushing TDs.

How he fared the next year: Without quarterback Russell Wilson, some experts predicted Ball would struggle to equal the numbers from his junior campaign. Sure enough, with a rotating quarterback carousel, that’s exactly what happened. The Badgers threw just 289 times that season and Ball finished with a career-high 356 carries. Ball’s importance and talent were still undeniable but, as defenses zeroed in against him, he watched his yards-per-carry average fall by more than a yard.

How the team fared: Wisconsin leaned on Ball heavily -- just take a look at this box score against Utah State -- and fared well when it counted. The Badgers won the Big Ten championship, embarrassing Nebraska in a 70-31 blowout, and earned a spot in the Rose Bowl. They finished 8-6.




Michigan QB Denard Robinson, 2010, sophomore

Heisman votes as a sophomore: Six first-place votes; finished sixth overall. Went 182-of-291 passing (62.5 percent) for 2,570 yards, 18 TDs and 11 INTs; rushed for 1,702 yards (6.6 ypc) and 14 TDs.

How he fared the next year: Speculation swirled on whether Robinson would transfer before the season because the firing of Rich Rodriguez meant he had to deal a new coaching staff and some offensive changes. But Robinson stayed and performed well – even if his numbers decreased across the board. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was able to take some pressure off Robinson, and the change in statistics wasn’t dramatic. After all, Robinson still rushed for more than 1,000 yards and passed for more than 2,000. It wasn’t as impressive as 2010, but Robinson was still named team MVP and earned a spot on the All-Big Ten second team.

How the team fared: Michigan fans were just fine with Robinson’s drop-off because the team soared in Brady Hoke’s first season. Robinson guided the Wolverines to an 11-2 finish -- their best record in five years -- and helped Michigan win the Sugar Bowl.




Michigan RB Mike Hart, 2006, junior

Heisman votes as a junior: Five first-place votes; finished fifth overall. Finished second in the B1G with 1,562 yards (4.9 ypc) and had 14 rushing TDs

How he fared the next year: Hart became a team captain and turned in an even stronger performance. If it wasn’t for an ankle injury that sidelined him for three full games, Hart likely would’ve been in the Heisman race again. Through nine Michigan games, he led all BCS runners with 154 yards a game – and he was still a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and a consensus pick as first-team All-Big Ten. Overall, his importance was pretty difficult to ignore. After opening the season with two losses, Hart helped to shift the tone by guaranteeing a win against Notre Dame – Michigan won 38-0 –and then winning eight straight. He finished the year with 5.1 ypc and matched his 14-touchdown total despite carrying the ball 53 fewer times.

How the team fared: The Wolverines put an early end to their national title hopes by losing to Appalachian State in the opener. Michigan failed to repeat its Rose Bowl berth but rebounded after a slow start to go 9-4 and win the Capital One Bowl.




Purdue QB Drew Brees, 1999, junior

Heisman votes as a junior: Three first-place votes; finished fourth overall. Led the conference in every major passing category: passing yards (3,909), passing TDs (25), pass attempts (554) and pass completions (337) and threw 12 interceptions.

How he fared the next year: Brees’ consistency was pretty darn impressive, as all of his numbers were nearly identical even though Purdue didn't have much of a running game. He again led the Big Ten in those same statistical categories and improved his standing in the Heisman race -- he finished third as a senior with 69 first-place votes. Plus, he won the Maxwell Award and was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Brees’ success is pretty well documented, but something fans might have forgotten: He rushed for 521 yards and 5.5 yards per carry as a senior. Brees really could do it all.

How the team fared: The Boilermakers shared the Big Ten title and improved their victory total from the year before, from 7-5 to 8-4. They earned a berth in the Rose Bowl.




Northwestern RB Darnell Autry, 1995, sophomore

Heisman votes as a sophomore: 87 first-place votes; finished fourth overall. Led the NCAA with 387 rushing attempts and had 1,785 yards (4.6 ypc) and 17 TDs; caught 27 passes for 168 yards and one score.

How he fared the next year: Autry fared a bit better in 1996, as Northwestern’s passing attack improved and defenses could no longer key on him. In 1995, he literally accounted for half of the offense’s total yards (1,953 of 3,916). In 1996, he carried the ball 107 fewer times – his 280 attempts were still the fourth-highest in the conference -- but he matched his 17 rushing TDs from the previous season and increased his average by more than a half-yard, up to 5.2 yards per carry. He dropped a bit in the Heisman voting, but that was mostly because his rushing yards dropped with a smaller workload. Autry still dominated.

How the team fared: Northwestern shared the Big Ten title and improved its record to 9-3 – but lost in the Citrus Bowl. Autry’s Wildcats shocked the B1G that October when they overcame a 16-0 deficit against Michigan by rallying in the fourth quarter.

Region Series Quick Hits: East 

June, 12, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. Quick Hits is a look at the must-know facts for each region in regard to Michigan and its football recruiting efforts. It will give you an idea of the Wolverines’ history in that region, as well as what one can expect from that region over the next few seasons.

EAST

WolverineNation Roundtable 

May, 16, 2013
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Braylon EdwardsTom Pidgeon/Getty ImagesHaving Braylon Edwards on the 2013 Michigan football team would provide a big receiver who can make big plays, take the pressure off Jeremy Gallon and add a colorful quote or two.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Every Thursday our writers sit down to talk about three issues related to Michigan athletics. Today, they take a look at former Michigan football greats, the potential of 2014 prospects and a wild card question about baseball.

1. If you could stick any one Michigan football player from the last decade onto the 2013-14 team, who would it be?


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Denard Robinson is heading back to Florida.

The former Michigan quarterback was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 135th pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the second pick in the fifth round.

Denard Robinson
AP Photo/Michael ConroyDenard Robinson was a fifth-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The interesting thing is his projected position in Jacksonville. He played quarterback in college and was looked at as a wide receiver during a lot of pre-draft workouts. The Jaguars' Twitter account says they selected him as a running back from Michigan.

Robinson now continues to make the transition from record-setting spread option quarterback to professional hybrid -- something started when he aggravated the ulnar nerve in his right elbow against Nebraska on Oct. 27, 2012. Robinson sat for two games and returned in a role as a hybrid receiver, running back, quarterback with Devin Gardner as Michigan’s starter.

His healing process has been slow. He struggled to grip a football throughout the remainder of his Michigan career and early on in his professional transition. In his college career, he caught three passes for 31 yards.

Robinson set the NCAA record for career quarterback rushing yards with 4,495 and was the first player in FBS history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in the same season in 2010.

He finished his Michigan career second in rushing yards, behind only Mike Hart, and third in career rushing touchdowns with 42. He is fourth in Michigan history in passing yards with 6,250 and fourth in touchdown passes with 49.

He has more total yards than any Michigan player, with 10,769, and scored 91 total touchdowns, more than any other Wolverine.

Robinson chose Michigan over Florida and UCF in his recruiting process. Robinson and Taylor Lewan are two of the better prospects former Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez signed during his three years at Michigan.

Michigan went without a selection in the first three rounds of the NFL draft for only the fifth time since 1970 -- joining 1976, 1989, 2006 and 2009. The Wolverines went without a pick in the first four rounds for the first time since the 1968 NFL/AFL draft, when Rocky Roesma went to the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth round.

Other stories on Robinson:

WolverineNation Mailbag 

January, 30, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – What a week for Michigan sports. A top ranking for the basketball team and a big commitment for the football team. But I believe that good things come in threes, so let’s consider this mailbag the third good thing for Michigan sports this week.

Next week Mike will be handling it, so send your questions to michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or @mikerothstein. Now on to this week’s questions.

1) Alex Koschik, via Twitter: How can Texas A&M have 32 commits when Michigan’s max is around 27?

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Denard Robinson Record Watch

December, 28, 2012
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Robinson/WhiteUS PresswireDenard Robinson needs 86 yards to surpass Pat White's FBS QB rushing record.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- This is it, Denard Robinson's last chance to set records at college, to move up among Michigan's career leaders.

And one final chance to set the record he likely would be most associated with if he broke it -- the FBS career quarterback rushing mark.

Here's a look at what Robinson needs to set that mark -- and a brief glance back at some of the records he already has:

(Read full post)

Denard Robinson Record Watch 

October, 30, 2012
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Denard Robinson watched from the sidelines Saturday as Michigan lost to Nebraska, 23-9, and there was little he could do about it, being knocked from the game in the first half.

Consequently, Robinson's chase of some records also has taken a major hit -- to the point of eliminating Michigan's career rushing yardage and the Big Ten total yardage marks from this week's watch. In records Robinson could still attain, here is where he stands.

FBS CAREER QUARTERBACK RUSHING YARDS:

1. Pat White, West Virginia (2005-08): 4,480 yards.

  • Total yards Robinson needs to pass White: 306.
  • Average over four regular season games to pass White: 76.5.

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Denard Robinson Record Watch 

October, 23, 2012
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As Denard Robinson continues through his final season at Michigan, the senior quarterback continues to climb among the career leaders at his school, in his conference as well as all of FBS.

Last week, Robinson passed former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick for third place in career quarterback rushing yards and former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long for seventh place in Big Ten history in career all-purpose yards.

Below is where Robinson stands with records he has a chance -- even if it is remote in some cases -- of setting with anywhere between five and seven games left in his career.

FBS CAREER QUARTERBACK RUSHING YARDS:

1. Pat White, West Virginia (2005-08): 4,480 yards.

  • Total yards Robinson needs to pass White: 352.

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Denard Robinson Record Watch 

October, 16, 2012
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Michigan HuddleSandra Dukes/US PresswireDenard Robinson has four 100-yard rushing games this season, two in which he surpassed 200.
As Denard Robinson continues through his final season at Michigan, the senior quarterback continues to climb among the career leaders at his school, in his conference as well as all of FBS .

Below is where Robinson stands with records he has a chance -- even if it is remote in some cases -- of setting with anywhere between six and eight games left in his career.

FBS CAREER QUARTERBACK RUSHING YARDS:

1. Pat White, West Virginia (2005-08): 4,480 yards.

  • Total yards Robinson needs to pass White: 448.

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Denard Robinson Record Watch 

October, 11, 2012
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Denard RobinsonRick Osentoski/US PresswireWith the all-time QB rushing mark in sight, can Denard Robinson catch Mike Hart atop U-M's rushing list?
As Denard Robinson continues through his final season at Michigan, the senior quarterback continues to climb among the career leaders at his school, in his conference as well as all of FBS .

Robinson is not going to set many, if any, of Michigan’s career passing records, although he could finish third or fourth in most categories. He also could end up among the Big Ten’s top 10 career rushers (Michigan State’s Javon Ringer is 10th with 4,398 yards) and career rushing touchdowns in the Big Ten (Wisconsin’s Billy Marek and Ohio State’s Eddie George are tied for ninth with 44).

Below is where Robinson stands with records he has a chance -- even if it is remote in some cases -- of setting with anywhere between seven and nine games left in his career.

FBS CAREER QUARTERBACK RUSHING YARDS:

1. Pat White, West Virginia (2005-08): 4,480 yards.

  • Total yards Robinson needs to pass White: 576.

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Michigan camp notes: Wednesday 

June, 20, 2012
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Michigan finished its third and final full day of camp on Wednesday. With more than 1,300 campers going through the Wolverines' doors, the coaching staff has had quite a few looks at the possible talent pool over the next few years.

And after Wednesday, with a lot of heat and a lot of football, here are a few of Tom and Chantel's thoughts on the day.

QUARTERBACKS

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12