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Denard Robinson Should’ve Been Left Off the All-America Team

12.13.10

Awards, much like polls and surveys, tend to be way too subjective for my taste and the Football Writers Association of America’s All-America team is no exception.

Though I have to say, as a Michigan fan, I’m stoked to report that UM quarterback phenom Denard Robinson made the first team, which is a who’s-who of the best college football players in the nation.  What strikes me as a bit of a slap in the face, however, is that he wasn’t selected in the position that he plays.  Instead he was honored as a running back, alongside Heisman runner-up LaMichael James from Oregon.

Now, stats-wise, it makes total sense: Robinson was the third leading rusher in the nation.  Yes, you read that right.  Not the third leading rusher amongst quarterbacks, but among all running backs in the Football Bowl Subdivision.  In fact, he was only 6 yards shy of the second-leading rusher and less than 50 yards away from topping the aforementioned James.  To say that Robinson had a banner year is being modest.

But he didn’t accomplish these record stats as a running back. He did them as quarterback. True, he clearly runs.  A lot.  And does it remarkably well.  Just going by his numbers, it seems like he could be a  tailback on nearly any team in the country.  But that’s not his position at Michigan.  Nor was it his position in high school.  It’s not how Rich Rodriguez recruited him nor is it what he intended to play when he came to Ann Arbor.

He’s a quarterback. Just because he puts up better numbers than almost all other designated running backs in the country doesn’t mean that his position changes anymore than a wide receiver who’s excellent at running reverses becomes a running back simply because of that facet of his game.

Normally I’d say that, regardless, it’s an honor to be named to the All-America first team even if it’s for the wrong position.  And I do think that he did enough this season to warrant such recognition.  The reality is that running is an increasingly integral part of a college quarterback’s game, so to acknowledge his impressive talent but then essentially claim that it’s not part of his role as QB1 is to basically say that he’s not great enough at his position for the honor — so why bend the justification?

If the voters felt that he was not quite good enough all-around to make it on the team as a quarterback, they should’ve just left him off the list.

Denard Robinson is the starting quarterback at the University of Michigan.  He should be recognized as such.

Image courtesy of Mike Pettigano’s Flickr Photostream.

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