2B - January 4, 2012
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam
S aRTsWEDy 4,S ihAY012
Denard develops as a leader or re-emerging 'A'
NEW ORLEANS -
enard Robinson has a
shtick he plays outwith
his center, Dave Molk.
This week, as the two prepared for
the Sugar Bowl, they made their
rounds, meeting with the media
and making appearances that may
for the soft-
son or ornery
At a hospital
spied a line of TIM
eras, and play-
towards them. Hey, Denard wants
his picture taken! You all want
Denard's autograph, right?
Robinson bashfully laughs it off,
then jokes that Molk - perhaps the
Michigan player who most despis-
es public appearances - is who
they should heap the attention on.
As the week unfolded, it was
clear that Robinson's fame fol-
lowed him to New Orleans. It
was common to see him juking
bystanders on the street, racing
to get backto his group, having
stopped to take so many photos
with fans. Some players werebrave
enough to wear their gray Michi-
gan jumpsuits. Had Robinson not
worn casual clothes, he may have
It took some getting used to.
At first, he was only recognized
around his small hometown of
Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Now, the world is watching him,
and him alone, no matter where
the team goes.
"Denard has rock star status
everywhere," Molk said. "If he
went to the grocery store, he'd had
rock star status. I mean, he's just
stuck because of who he is and all
that kind of stuff.
"It's hard for him. I remember
him telling me one time, when
he orders a pizza he can't give his
name because then he'd have three
guys show up at the door trying to
talk to him."
Instead of passing his fans with
a simple nod, Robinson takes the
time other stars wouldn't.
"I speak to everybody," he said.
"I mean, I enjoy people. The one
thing about me, I lovebeing around
people and love talking to people. I
just have fun with it."
One fan down in New Orleans
called him "Bernard," which made
the quarterback laugh. Countless
others will leave with a brief per-
sonal memory with him that they'll
It should come at no surprise
that Robinson is the most rec-
coach was briefedby Sheri Acho,
formerlythe academic support
director. She told Carr, "You're
going to love this kid, because he's
really a dynamite person."
They talked for half-an-hour.
"I came away feelingshe was
exactly right," Carr said. "He's an
Around the team, he's evenbet-
ter. It's understood he's thebest
recruiter, the go-to guy for hosting
players on visits. His teammates
respect him, and players older than
Robinson say they look up to him.
When Robinson's asked about
his own success, he credits others
almost too much - this week he
said he throws to the best receiv-
ing corps in the country. He's his
own biggest critic, alwaysbeating
himself up, his teammates say. It's
how he smiles through those dark
moments - like the interceptions
and injuries - that impresses
"I think he's justbeen a sensa-
tional representative of Michigan
football," Carr said. "He's handled
the good and thebad.
"And when things didn't go
well, he handled it extremely well.
Which, to me, is really an impor-
tant sign. Because thatshows
maturity. He hasbeen extremely
Off the field, his personality fit
the part. The next step wasbecom-
ing a better leader on it - some-
thing Robinson says is a work in
progress, as isbecoming a better
passer. Molk and senior captain
Kevin Koger told him he had tobe
more vocalthis season. Robinson
couldn't just leadby example as the
Next year, there won'tbe many
older players to guide him. Though
he submitted his name to the NFL
Draft Advisory Committee to
gauge his stock, earlier this week
Robinson said he expects tobe
back for his senior year. In his sec-
ond season in AlBorges' system,
expectations willbe high. He'll
have 12 or 13 gamesto prove he's
an NFL-caliber quarterback while
leading the team through a road-
If there was a way to test Robin-
son's patience and true resolve, the
2012 season will be as good as any.
Don't count on Robinson changing,
win or lose.
"I just know him from seeing
him on TV and thathbrief conversa-
tion I've had with him," Carr said.
"But what Ireally appreciate about
him is he has reason tobe really
proud and confident, but he's not
"He has a humility about him
that I really admire."
- Rohan can be reached
Denard Robinson embraced the spotlight in the run-up to the Sugar Bowl
ognizable star amongstboth the
Michigan and Virginia Tech teams.
Human nature says we're captivat-
ed by phenomena we can't explain.
Try comprehending how Robin-
son, who's always the fastestplayer
on the field, can shake a defender in
a phone booth then shoothimself
out of a rocket.
But how he handles the atten-
tion, with a smile, is what's worth
discussing,because Robinson is
alreadybecoming the ideal face of
A coach's dream, he is known
around the program as humble and
selfless. How he portrays himself
in the media is who he is. The smile
isn't a show.
Before Lloyd Carr, the patriarch
of the Michigan football family,
first met Robinson, the former
Blue wrestles to invitational win
Trey Burke's Resolutions
By LIZ NAGLE over the years and continues to set
Daily Sports Writer higher standards for himself. Rus-
sell finished the tournament 4-0
The year 2011 came to an end, with 3 major decisions, a technical
coincidentally enough, with 11 fall and fourbonus wins.
place winners for the Michigan "(The program's) really shaped
wrestling team. The Wolverines me into the personI amtoday - the
eclipsed all other teams at the program, the coaches and every-
annual Mat Town Invitational, body I've wrestled with," Russell
hosted by Lock Haven University, said. "I've learned a little bit from
and came away with a few resolu- everybody, and I keep learning
tions as they approach the new from younger guys."
year. Even though he's ranked No. 2
Michigan boasted at least one and standing at 16-1 on the season,
place-winning wrestler in each Russell knows there is always room
weight class above 125 pounds, five for improvement. His New Year's
of which wenerowned champions. a resolutionl.".GetGmore takedowns."
The combined efforts of each indi- Fifth-year senior Justin Zeerip
vidual ultimately resulted in the is already adequate in that depart-
eighth-ranked Wolverines taking ment.
home the title with 141 points. "I have more of a power style,"
Their performance made it seem Zeerip said. "Staying tight, taking
as if the Wolverines would wrestle my shots, trying to square people
through the second half of the sea- out, grind 'em out."
son with momentum. They reached Zeerip was confident in his per-
a turning point when they took forming style before arriving at
revenge on runner-up Pittsburgh, Lock Haven, but was reassured
who beat Michigan in a dual meet after pinning his first two oppo-
early in the season. nents at 3:22 and 2:32 respectively.
What was the major differ- In his final match, Zeerip faced
ence between the team's 19-13 loss Pittsburgh fifth-year senior Ethan
against the Panthers and its recent Headlee.
dominance? This wasn't the first time Zeerip
Kellen Russell. wrestled against Headlee. In the
Inactive due to a minor injury 2010-11 season, Zeerip suffered
during the dual meet, a restored a close 3-1 loss in sudden victory.
Russell meant a rejuvenated team. They squared off again this past
"He came through big today, November, where Zeerip ral-
scored a lot of bonus points for us," lied for a win that put Michigan
said Michigan coach Joe McFar- ahead 13-10, though his teammates
land. "Kellen is a great competitor. couldn't hold onto the lead.
He hates to lose. I knew that the At last, they met again. With an
first moment he walked into the escape, single leg takedown and
room." over a minute of riding time, Zeerip
The 141-pound fifth-year senior took the 174-pound title and left
has lived up to those expectations Headlee scoreless.
Satisfied with his victory,
Zeerip admitted to a more general
New Year's resolution: "Try to get
additional morning workouts in a
Also crowned was senior Zac
Stevens, redshirt sophomore Dan
Yates and redshirt junior Ben
Apland who all finished their
championship bouts 2-0 with
escapes and rideouts.
Stevens, who wrestles in the 133-
pound bracket, pinned Franklin &
Marshall freshman Robert Ruiz in
the first period of the first round
and followed with a major decision
in thequarterfinals. ,
There was a noticeable differ-
ence between the Stevens that lost
in the home opener against Wis-
consin, and the Stevens that was
thorough and effective in Lock
"He was aggressive today,"
McFarland said. "It goes back to
that same philosophy that we talk
to these guys a lot about. It's about
scoring a lot of points and trying
to dominate your opponents and
Zac did a great job of that today. He
stayed on his offense and wasn't
trying to sit on a lead."
It seemed that McFarland was
content with the end of the year
and his team's progress. When
asked for his New Year's resolution,
he was thoughtful and hesitant, as
if they were already on track for a
He then realized that improve-
ment is always welcome in his pro-
"We're going to be more consis-
tent with running as a supplement
to our training.... I don't expect the
guys are going to be real excited."
Anew year. A new outlook
on life. A new set of fore-
asts for what the upcom-
ing year will hold. And if you're
like all the people planning to
be at the gym, a new resolution.
Most Americans stick with cliche
New Year's resolutions dur-
ing the past few years probably
looked a lot different than yours
or mine. And with each new year,
Burke's new resolutions probably
changed drastically every year.
Let's take a look:
2009: As a high school sopho-
more, Burke was already the
starting point guard for power-
house Northland High School in
Columbus, who would go on to
win the 2009 Ohio state champi-
onship. But while his teammate
Jared Sullinger was one of the
nation's top recruits, Burke was
receiving little attention from
New Year's resolution: Work
harder in hopes of gaining rec-
ognition and earning scholarship
2010: If Burke's resolution
in 2009 was to get noticed and
receive scholarship offers, then
his resolution was a success. In
October of 2009, he committed
to Penn State. The Nittany Lions
hadn't made the NCAA Tourna-
ment since 2001.
New Year's resolution: Work
body into college-ready shape
to make an early impact at Penn
State and lead the Nittany Lions
back into March Madness brack-
2011: Burke continued to
improve his own game, eventu-
ally winning Mr. Basketball
in Ohio. But as his numbers
continued to increase, so did
the quantity and quality of his
scholarship offers. While Penn
State may have seemed like
an ideal destination given his
2009 aspirations, Happy Val-
ley no longer met his expecta-
tions. So in May of 2010, Burke
switched his commitment to
On Dec. 28, 2010, just days
before 2011 was ushered in, the
Wolverines were set to welcome
Purdue to Crisler Arena. After
an easy non-conference sched-
ule, Michigan was 10-2 entering season - on Sunday nightwould
the game and sophomore guard certainly hurt the team in the
Darius Morris's play hadbeen standings and, more importantly, .
impressive. But Purdue rolled in confidence.
through Ann Arbor, winning Butnjust like the game against
80-57, and Morris laid an egg, Purdue a year ago, Michigan
shooting 3-for-14. came out flat against Minnesota.
Morris's move to the NBA Evan Smotrycz, the team's
was still a pipe dream when the go-to player throughout Decem-
2011 calendars replaced those ber, scored a measlytwo points.
of 2010. Burke hadbeen playing Tim Hardaway Jr. shot 2-for-14
well enough to garner a four-star and scored just seven points. And
recruiting ranking, and most Jordan Morgan had nearly as
analysts expected the Columbus many turnovers (five) as points
native to compete for the backup (seven).
point guard spot on the Wolver- Butnthis year's pointnguard
ines'roster. ,,: e. ewho was suppaeddahbgrNit-
New Year's resolution: Keep tany Lion or abench warmer
getting better so that in a year, scrapping for minutes - had
he'd be seeing meaningful bench other plans, other resolutions.
minutes in Big Ten matchups. When Michigan couldn't
Which brings us - or Trey, buy a shot early on and fell
rather - to Dec. 31, 2011. While behind in the first five minutes,
Ann Arbor was abuzz with par- Burke hit a 3-pointer. When the
tygoers preparing to welcome Wolverines needed a defensive
2012 in style, Burke had a lot to stop in the game's final minute,
reflect on. Burke came through with a per-
Just two years earlier, his fect close-out on a shot-clock
resolution was to be adequately buzzer beater, forcing a Min-
prepared for when he'd put on a nesota air ball and preserving
Penn State uniform. Instead, just Michigan's lead.
days ago, he donned a Michigan All night, as the other Wol-
jersey while scoring13 points verines could hardly muster up
and dishing out seven assists in a anybaskets, combining for just
win over his would-be team. 34 points on 12-of-41 shooting,
And instead of beingthe Burke dropped a career-high 27
backup he likely assumed he'd points.
be last year, Burke is one of the He didn't just single-handedly
top freshmen in the country; win the game for Michigan; he
the starting point guard and was the single hand as the Wol-
second-leading scorer for the verines knocked off the Golden
No. 18 team in the nation. So as Gophers, 61-56.
the seconds in 2011 ticked away, Michigan stays unbeaten in
what could his new New Year's the Big Ten, a conference that is
resolution be? now realizingnthat with theball *
It couldn't have been limiting in Burke's hands, the Wolverines'
his turnovers in 2012. He already season may be looking about as
turns the ball over less than bright as the ball that dropped
three times per game, outstand- into New York's Times Square on
ing for a starting point guard. Saturday night.
It couldn't have been to make So with all the new things
a name for himself on national that you hear about at this time
television. He did that at the of the year, Burke's new New
Maui Invitational, when he lit up Year's resolution just might've
Memphis and dropped 17 points had something to do with the
on Duke. word new.
It couldn't have been to gain Because if Burke can keep
the trust of his teammates. increasing his level of play to
"Confidence is the best part new heights, as he did on Sun-
about his game, but the flip side day and as he has done every
of that is the confidence that we year before, he may just lead
give him, but we completely trust the Wolverines to aberth in the
him," said Stu Douglass, one of 2012 home of the Final Four -
the team's captains. New Orleans.
And for all you potential gym Sure, it's a long shot. But
goers, it probably wasn't even to wasn't everything else that hap-
get in better shape and become pened to Burke in the last couple
more durable. Burke is the team's of years a long shot, too?
So what might it have been? - Daniel Wasserman wishes
It's hard to call any game a you and your family a happy New
must-win this early in the season, Year, full of health, happiness, and
but a loss at home to Minnesota unkept New Year's resolutions. He
- who will likely finish toward can be reached at dwass@umich.
the bottom of the Big Ten this edu or on Twitter @d_wasseman.
Senior Kellen Rusell, who improved to 16-1 on the season, played a major role in Michigan's sweepof the M.
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