Thursday, March 17, 2011
Big Ten rankings: No. 3, Denard Robinson
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
(Note to Nebraska fans: Many of you have written in asking about the absence of Huskers players in the top 25 rankings. These rankings only include Big Ten players from the 2010 season, so Nebraska standouts aren't eligible. Check out colleague David Ubben's postseason Big 12 rankings to see who made it from the Huskers. Nebraska players will be included in my 2011 preseason rundown.)
The Big Ten postseason player rankings continue with ...
Denard Robinson was a legitimate threat throwing and running the ball for Michigan.
2010 numbers: Completed 182 of 291 passes for 2,570 yards with 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions; recorded 256 rushes for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns; broke FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback and led the Big Ten and ranked fourth nationally in rushing average (130.9 ypg); led Big Ten and ranked second nationally in total offense (328.6 ypg); set Big Ten single-game quarterback rushing record (258 yards against Notre Dame) and became the first player in FBS history to record more than 2,000 pass yards and 1,500 rush yards in the same season.
Preseason rank: Unranked in the preseason top 25 players
Why he's here: Robinson was the nation's best player through the first month of the season and helped a flawed Michigan team end its bowl drought. These rankings are largely about impact, and no Big Ten offensive player made a more pronounced individual impact than Robinson. Without him, the Wolverines would have stayed home for the holidays once again. He claimed Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors and won the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football Award, among other accolades. The sophomore complemented his superb rushing skills with significantly improved passing, particularly in wins against Connecticut and Indiana. His big-play skills led a record-setting Michigan offense that had to be at its best as the team struggled mightily on defense and special teams.
Although Robinson got banged up at times and didn't dominate against the Big Ten's elite teams (why he isn't ranked higher), he maintained a major presence every time he took the field. He eclipsed 300 yards of offense in nine games and had 360 yards or more six times. Opposing defensive coaches had to shape their game plans around No. 16, who lacked a dynamic supporting cast and blossomed for the Wolverines in his second season.