16 Days: A Look Back At Denard Robinson

With only 16 days until Michigan football, we look back at Denard “Shoelace” Robinson. The Florida native came to Michigan and made a quick impression that helped him develop to get where he is today in the NFL. Below are his highlights and achievements:

First Play as Shoelace

  • On his first snap on September 5, 2009, in Michigan’s season opener against Western Michigan, Robinson scored a touchdown on his first collegiate (fumbled) snap. ESPN focused on his untied shoelaces, Robinson took the snap in the shotgun formation, ran to the  right, broke a tackle at the 40-yard line, then cut left and ran 43 yards for a touchdown.

Great Performance and Plays in 2010

  • Robinson led Michigan to a 28–24 win over Notre Dame against its traditional rival in 2010 finishing the game with 502 of Michigan’s 532 yards of total offense, 258 rushing yards and 244 passing yards, breaking the Michigan record he set in his first start. He also scored the winning touchdown with 27 seconds remaining on a two-yard run, capping a 12-play, 72-yard drive.
  • In the 10th game of the season against Purdue, Robinson passed John Navarre’s Michigan single-season total offense record of 3,240 yards set in 2003. Against Wisconsin one week later, he broke the Division I FBS single-season quarterback rushing record of 1,494 yards.
  • He also became the first person in NCAA (all divisions) history to record 1,500 yards rushing and passing in the same season.
  • He finished the 2010 season with 1,702 rushing yards, 130.9 yards per game, which stood as an FBS single-season record for a quarterback until it was surpassed two years later by Jordan Lynch.NHe also passed for 2,570 yards and compiled 4,272 yards of total offense, 328.6 yards per game
  • At the end of the 2010 regular season, Robinson received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten Conference.
  • He was also named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year by the Big Ten coaches and media and by the College Football News.
  • Selected as a first-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America as a running back, a third-team All-American by the Associated Press as an all-purpose player.
  • He finished sixth in the 2010 Heisman Trophy voting, and was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten quarterback by both the Big Ten media and College Football News.

2011 Highlights and Honors

  • With a new head coach, Brady Hoke, Robinson entered the 2011 season on watchlists for the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Paul Hornung Award, and the Manning Award.
  • On September 10th, 2011, he threw the game winning TD to Roy Roundtree with :02 remaining to beat Notre Dame in the first “Under The Lights” game by a score of  35-31.
  • On November 26, in a victory over Ohio State, Robinson posted a five-touchdown performance, three passing and two rushing, and became the fourth player in NCAA history to gain 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in a season twice in his career.
  • He ended 2011 earning second team All-Conference recognition from the media and was voted team MVP for the second year in a row. He was also a Sports Illustrated All-American honorable mention.

2012 Season

  • With his win against Air Force, he became the first NCAA athlete to both rush and pass for 200 yards in a game on three separate occasions. It marked the first time since the 1993 Rose Bowl performance by Tyrone Wheatley that a Michigan player had two rushing touchdowns of over 50 yards.
  • On September 15, 2012, playing against UMass, Robinson tallied 397 yards of total offense in three-quarters of play, including 291 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, and 369 yards of total offense in the first half. With the performance against UMass, Robinson passed Tom Brady on Michigan’s all-time passing yardage list.
  • October 7, Robinson rushed for 235 yards on 24 carries and threw for 105 yards against Purdue. His performance gave him 3,905 career rushing yards, moving past Antwaan Randle El as the Big Ten career leader in rushing yards by a quarterback. The 235 yards rushing was also a personal best for Robinson in a Big Ten game and won him recognition as the Maxwell Award Player of the Week and a Manning Award “Star of the Week”. It also earned him his ninth Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award, tying a career record set in 1999 by Ron Dayne.
  • Robinson was named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

College Career Stats

  • Denard played his final game at Michigan on January 1, 2013 in the Outback Bowl vs South Carolina. In the game, he surpassed Pat White’s FBS record for career rushing yards by a quarterback by 15 yards to reach a total of 4,495.
  • Robinson played in 47 games with a career total yards of 6250 passing and 4495 rushing with 49 touchdowns passing and 42 rushing.
  • He has seven of the top ten single-game performances in total yards in Michigan history.
  • Robinson holds the single-season record for total yards with 4272, set in 2010.

College Honors and Awards 

  • Most rushing yards by a QB in a Career In Division I FBS
  • Notre Dame Stadium longest run from scrimmage
  • Chicago Tribune Silver Football (Big Ten MVP) (2010)
  • Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2010)
  • 2010 All-American (1st team – FWAA, 3rd team – AP, honorable mention – SI & CFN)
  • First-team All-Big Ten (2010, media)
  • Second-team All-Big Ten (2011, media)
  • Led Big Ten in rushing (2010)
  • Led Big Ten in total offense (2010)
  • 2011 All-American (honorable mention – SI)
  • 2012 All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention


  • Robinson was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft with the 135th overall selection as a running back.
  • As a rookie, Robinson played in all 16 games and totaled 66 yards rushing on 20 carries but no receptions for the 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • On October 19 in week 7 of the 2014 season, Robinson made his first start at running back in place of an injured Toby Gerhart.
  • He had an NFL-career-high 127 rushing on 22 carries against the Cleveland Browns to help the 2014 Jacksonville Jaguars end a nine-game losing streak. It was the first 100-yard rushing game for the team for the season and the most rushing yards by a Jaguar in two seasons.
  • He posted career highs in yards and carries and also scored his first NFL touchdown. When Robinson had 108 on 18 carries the following week against Miami, he became the first Jaguar to have back-to-back 100-yard games since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011.
  • He finished 2014 with 135 carries, 582 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
  • September 20 in the second week of the 2015 NFL season, Robinson endured a medial collateral ligament sprain in his left knee against the Miami Dolphins while serving as a backup to T. J. Yeldon. The injury caused him to miss the next three games. On December 13, Yeldon suffered the same injury against the Indianapolis Colts making way for Robinson to tally 75 yards on 14 carries and his first touchdown of the season that day.
  • Through three seasons in the NFL, Robinson has played in 42 games with 914 rushing yards, 4.1 average per carry, and five touchdowns.

Denard was one of the most electrifying football players in Michigan history. His performances throughout his career not only broke records, but he did it with his shoes untied.

Go Blue!

David Noe