ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Denard Robinson’s position is a secret for the final game of his college career.
It perhaps provides a preview of his unclear future in football.
The three-year starting quarterback might not throw for No. 19 Michigan against No. 11 South Carolina on New Year’s Day at the Outback Bowl. He probably will catch some passes, lining up as a running back or receiver.
Robinson hopes showing that he can make plays without taking snaps will help NFL teams see what he can do.
“If you’re making plays on the field, you can’t hide that,” Robinson said earlier this month before the Wolverines traveled to Florida. “You can’t hide a playmaker.”
Some project Robinson as a receiver in the pros.
NFL Draft consultant and former Dallas Cowboys general manager Gil Brandt has another idea.
“I’d draft him to be a cornerback,” Brandt said. “A quarterback never wants to be told he’s going to have to play another position, but I don’t think he can play quarterback in the NFL.”
Robinson has declined to say much about what position he wants to attempt to play at the next level.
Nerve damage in his right elbow knocked him off the field Oct. 27 at Nebraska, keeping him out for the next two games and limiting his ability to throw in the final two games of the regular season.
Michigan moved him to running back and also had him take snaps without throwing a pass against Iowa and Ohio State, games in which he had 23 carries for 220 yards and a score and two receptions for 24 yards.
The Gamecocks are preparing for Robinson to play up to his spectacular potential.
“He’s the best athlete that we’ll play at quarterback,” said South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing, a former Michigan State assistant. “He’s a tremendous athlete and he can throw the ball. And if he’s healthy throwing the ball, he can cause us some problems, and we know that.”
South Carolina has an answer for Robinson whether he runs right, left or up the middle. Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney helped his team shut down Clemson’s speedy QB, Tajh Boyd, sacking him 4 1/2 times in a win.
Even though Robinson has been hurt, Lawing said the defensive staff has to come up with a game plan to keep him contained.
“Guys like him, you lay up awake every night and worry about him,” Lawing said.
“One play, 80 yards from the goal line and boom, it’s a touchdown,” he added.
In Robinson’s career, which started as Tate Forcier’s backup when they both were freshmen, he has thrown for 6,250 and 49 TDs and run for 4,395 and 42 scores. He had a school-record 502 yards of offense at Notre Dame two years ago in his breakout performance and has 10 of the top 11 games in terms of total offense for college football’s winningest team.
Robinson is confident his talents will translate one way or another in the NFL, but he’s trying to put those thoughts on hold until his college career on the field is over.
“I’m soaking it in and having fun,” he said. “This is my last game and I want to make the most of it. My last time probably wearing the winged helmet, having fun with the team and just enjoying it with my teammates, the coaches and the staff that’s around us.”