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January 20, 2012 - Image 6

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6 - Friday, January 20, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

iper sees Robinson at WR

Michigan stressing
academic success

By TIM ROHAN
Daily Sporrs Wrirer
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.
scoffed at the pundits who thought
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin
III would be better suited playing
wide receiver in the NFL.
"I heard that, never understood
that," said Kiper, who answered
questions Thursday on a national
conference call regarding April's
NFL draft.
"To say, he's an athlete, he's not
a great ..." Kiper continued, sum-
ming up the questions athletic
quarterbacks often hear - that
they aren't great passers. "(Grif-
fin's) a heck of a passer. That's his
strength, is throwing the football
accurately on the deep ball."
As for junior Michigan quar-
terback Denard Robinson - a
player who shares similar athletic
attributes with Griffin, but lacks
the pinpoint accuracy that won
Griffin the Heisman Trophy last
month - Kiper is equally deter-
mined about his NFL fate.
But he sees Robinson as a wide
receiver, not under center.
"Not a quarterback, no," Kiper
said, defiantly. "I think you look
at (Robinson) as a projection. You
can make an argument really that
goinginto next year he's either the
No. 2 or No. 1 most highly rated
wide receiver option and he hasn't
even played the position.
"That's'cause alotofthe receiv-
ers this year that were projected
from the junior class were com-
ing out. It's left you with a mini-
mal number of players that are
going to be projecting super high
and Denard would be one of those
guys projecting as a wide receiver,
slot guy."
It came across as a backhanded
compliment for Robinson, who
maintains that his childhood
dream is to play quarterback in
the NFL. He spurned college
coaches that recruited him to play
other positions, and he clams up
more than usual when reporters
inquire about his pass-catching
abilities. Robinson lined up split
out wide in one of Michigan offen-
sive coordinator Al Borges' sub-
packages of the "deuce" formation
he implemented this season, with
sophomore Devin Gardner atcquar-
terback and Robinson used more
as a runner or decoy. But it wasn't
a staple of the offense and only
appeared in a handful of games.

ERIN KIRKLAI
Junior quarterback Denard Robinson is projected by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. to be a coveted wide receiver in the NFL.

His speed can't be denied. With
plenty of open space in former
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez's
spread offense, Robinson broke
the NCAA single-season rush-
ing record for a quarterback with
1,702 yards as a sophomore in
2010. Then under Borges, getting
fewer carries and being used as
a true running back - barreling
off tackle on power-run plays out
of shotgun formations - Robin-
son still found a way to gain 1,176
rushing yards this past season.
Running back could also be in
Robinson's NFL future.
Under Borges' watch, Robinson
was supposed to become a more
polished quarterback playing in
a pro-style offense. But the tran-
sition was far from smooth and
Robinson threw at least one inter-
ception in all but three games this
season, fueling the argument for
experts like Kiper who believe
Robinson is merelya dynamic col-
lege quarterback.
Accuracy aside, Robinson's
height may be his biggest obstacle
to playing the position. Kiper said
Griffin's stock could be largely
affected by whether he's mea-
sured at 6-foot-2 or shorter. And
Wisconsin quarterback Russell
Wilson, who's 5-foot-11 and wide-
ly considered the bestquarterback
in the Big Ten, could slip from the
first or second round to the fourth
because of his height, according to
Kiper.
"Looking back in the past 30 or

40 years, how many have made it
thatwere under 6-feettall?" Kiper
asked. "How many, not only have
made it, but started?"
New Orleans Saints quarter-
back Drew Brees seems to be
the exception, not the rule, as he
broke the NFL's single-season
passing yards record this season
at 6-feet tall. But Brees possesses
one-of-a-kind knowledge and a
reputation for his perfect passes.
Michael Vick is the only other
reputable starting quarterback
listed at 6-foot and he has strug-
gled with inconsistent results as
a passer. The rest of the league's
elites are 6-foot-2 or taller.
Robinson, at 6-feet, has never
been considered more than an
average college passer. As an ath-
lete, Kiper said, Robinson will be
one of the best in the 2013 draft
class. Kiper projected five wide
receivers in the first round of his
first 2012 mock draft, which was
released Wednesday. Three of
the five - Oklahoma State's Jus-
tin Blackmon, Rutgers' Mohamed
Sanu and South Carolina's Alshon
Jeffery - are juniors who left early,
leaving gaps in the 2013 crop.
While Robinson waits, Michi-
gan has two players Kiper thought
highly of - defensive tackle Mike
Martin and center Dave Molk.
Martin, the four-year starter
who attracted constant double
teams, and Molk, the Rimington
Award winner and vital cog in
Michigan's offensive line, both

are considered undersized for
their positions. But their mean
streaks and football I.Q.s could
catapult them into the one of the
first three rounds.
"To me, if you look at the guys
this year, Mike Martin, quick out
of the blocks," Kiper said. "You've
got to like the fact he's a former
high school wrestler and all the
great things he did at Michigan.
Size is an issue, but I think he
could be a rotation type in that
second- (or) third-round mix.
"Molk (is the) same thing. You
think about a guy who's just that
overachieving center, battles
and scrapes for everything he
gets. I think he's the kind of guy
you think about with his abil-
ity to come in and from an intel-
ligence standpoint know what
he's expected to do and fit in right
away and become a leader on that
offensive line. Played a lot of great
football at Michigan, he could be
in that third- to fifth-round area."
Wide receiver Junior Heming-
way will also participate at the
NFL combine next month in
Indianapolis. Hemingway, the
Sugar Bowl MVP, was one of the
"intriguing possibilities" Michi-
gan offered - also including tight
end Kevin Koger - on day three
of the draft, which include rounds
four through seven. If Kiper's pre-
diction comes true in 2013, Rob-
inson may be drafted higher as.
a pass-catcher than the ones he
threw to while at Michigan.

By BEN SEIDMAN
Daily Sports Writer
Role model first and swim
coach second, Michigan men's
swimming coach Mike Bottom
and his dedicated staff have moti-
vated their swimmers to succeed
in the classroom by preaching the
importance of academics and the
belief that swimming will propel
them to the next step in their lives.
When Bottom stepped out of
his hotel room around 10 p.m. the
night before the Big Ten Cham-
pionships last year, he didn't see
an empty hotel hallway. Nor did
he see loud or obnoxious college
students breaking rules. He wit-
nessed his guys sitting out in the
hallways with their books cracked
open because they needed to study
and didn't want to disturb their
roommates who were sleeping.
This year, the team has set a
firm goal to earna cumulative 3.2
GPA, and the swimmers closing
in on the mark fast after they pre-
formed impressively in the class-
room last semester. They achieve
these goals by holding each other
accountable and helping one
other out - the true essence of
what a team is all about.
"(Assistant Coach) Josh
(White) will ask them, 'How are
you doing in that class?' and I'll
ask them, 'Hey, how did that test
go?' We try to keep track of what
they're doing," Bottom said.
White joined the coaching
staff in 2008 when Bottom was
hired. The two met earlier at
Kenyon College where Bottom
watched White lecture and grew
interested in White's vast knowl-
edge of swimming and human
performance in general. White
obtained his Ph.D. in human per-
formance from Indiana Univer-
sity and has been instrumental in
the team's success, both athleti-
cally and academically.
Making academic excellence
part of the culture for Michigan's
swimming and diving team is
something that has trickled down
from Athletic Director Dave
Brandon, through the coaching
staff and ultimately to the stu-
dent-athletes.
"How the athletes are doing
academically is really important,"
White said. "It's part of how the

team is viewed in terms of being
successful by the administration
as well."
"We wouldn't be here if Michi-
gan wasn't Michigan and if it
didn't hold the kind of ideals that
it holds," Bottom added. "The
athletic department puts a lot of
money into these guys' success
academically. They're doing it
because the mission of Michigan
athletics is to produce men and
women of character who will
make a difference. They put their
money where their mouth is."
Brandon has been the true
source of all this academic moti-
vation, according to Bottom and
White. Brandon met with each
and every coaching staff at the
University for three hours to
establish the importance of aca-
demics in the sphere of athletics.
"That's a commitment to
excellence that you would be
hard-pressed to find around the
country," Bottom said. "We're
more motivated in doing what
we're doing because of the way
he is and what he talks about in
coach's meetings. We believe that
it's important and we pass our
belief down to the guys and they
pass it around to each other. I
think that's the crux of success."
Bottom's team has a unique
way of looking at things. You can
either help the team out by swim-
ming fast and scoring points at
meets, or you can go to class and
earn a high GPA.
"There are some guys who
might never score at Big Tens,
yet we want them on our team
because they are helping the
guys with academics," Bottom
said. "The guys really understand
that. If there is a guy who is not
doing much in the water in terms
of scoring points but he is there
everyday and is getting a good
GPA, the respect is equal to a guy
who earns a lot of points."
Senior Casey Sreenan, a sprint
freestyle swimmer, was one of
those who struggled academically
as a freshman. Now he is earning
Academic All-Big Ten and U-M
Athletic Academic Achievement
Award honors.
"Those are the guys that really
stand out," Bottom said. "Casey
has never scored a point, but if he
focuses on being a total person
and not just being swimmers,
everything is elevated. Casey
has figured it out in the class-
room and the pool and most
likely he will score this year."
White said one of the best
feelings as a-coach is when a
swimmer comes in to prac-
tice and they're excited about
their grades.
"They'll tell you because
it's important to them and it's
exciting. It's a pretty exciting
thing to be a part of as coach
when they are both proud
and successful," White said.
Bottom added that being a
swimming coach is not sim-
ply critiquing strokes and
running practices, it's also
about teaching the things
that build a person and lead-
ingby example.
"Everyday we talk about
character and the things that
develop them as men and we
talk about academics," Bot-

tom said. "I think that it's just
the Michigan way."
Team academic counselor
Eric Gerbens has also been
pivotal in helping these stu-
dent-athletes to achieve their
goals. Every week he sends
the coaches the test sched-
ules of each student-athlete,
so the the coaching staff can
work around their academics.
Whether it is moving a work-
out session or giving a swim-
mer a day off, Gerbens' work
is essential to the academic
improvement the coaches
have seen.
"They really like and
respect Eric," White said.
"And you have to be really
good at a job like that to have
them like and respect you."
When prospective swim-
mers approach the Michi-
gan coaching staff and ask
what they can do to either
help their chances of accep-
tance or ready themselves for
swimming at Michigan, they
always reply saying only one
thing: Academics.

0
0~

0-

RELEASE DATE- Friday, January 20, 2012
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