The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2018 DENARD'S DAY Originally Published: Oct. 14, 2011; The Wall Street Journal Denard Robinson's Wednesday started at 6:30 a.m., when his alarm clock sounded in his off-campus condo bedroom. He hit the snooze once, then twice, before getting out of bed to put on a pair of jeans, a red polo shirt, a pair of black Adidas training shoes and his varsity jacket. Then he hopped into his roommate Devin Gardner's family pickup truck, a beat-up 2002 Dodge Dakota with a metal toolbox behind the cab. He rolled into Schembechler Hall, Michigan's football building, at 7 a.m. When he stumbled through the locker room door, he was met by a picture of the Paul Bunyan Trophy, which stays in the custody of the winner of the an- nual Michigan-Michigan State game. The picture said, "Home at Michigan State University since 2008." The Wol- verines would try to get Paul back that Saturday. Robinson looked half-awake when he walked into the training room for treatment on his left knee, which was swollen so badly you couldn't delin- eate the kneecap. After an hour of re- ceiving treatments that looked like voodoo to a layman, Robinson went to a side room to do some physical therapy. The worst part, said the Deerfield Beach, Fla., native, was the cold tub, which is kept at 50 degrees. He slowly forced himself down in the water, gri- macing the whole way. "'Y'all got it made,'" he said, mimicking the usual charge of his non-athlete classmates. "That's what everyone thinks. They don't see this!" After undergoing a dozen various treatments, by 9:40 a.m. Robinson hopped back in Gardner 's parents' pickup truck and raced back to their apartment to grab his roommate for their 10:00 class, "Crime, Race and the Law." Their first-floor apartment was modest, but bright, clean and neat. "That's because we're never here!" Gardner said. The two dashed to the Dennison Building and snuck into the classroom three minutes after the 10:10 start time — which they knew would get back to head coach Rich Rodriguez. Robin- son found an empty seat against the right wall of the packed classroom. Gardner sat in the middle among the other students, or "normies," as the players called them. Professor Scott Ellsworth, a middle- aged white man, started by discuss- ing a documentary called "Murder on a Sunday Morning," which explored a case of mistaken identity in Jacksonville, Florida. It re- sulted in 15-year-old Brenton Butler, who was walking by to apply for a job at Blockbuster that morning, going to jail. "Was Brenton Butler guilty of anything?" Ellsworth asked. Most of the white kids said no, but most of the African-Amer- icans disagreed. Wrong place, wrong time, they said. Gardner raised his hand more than any other student during the 80-minute class. Robinson was usu- ally content to take notes in his spiral notebook. He wrote in careful pen- manship that leaned left — a sign of an introvert. By the end of the class, he had written a page and a half, a little more than the suburban girl sitting next to him. Ellsworth told them to read Kafka's The Trial and let them go. While Robinson packed his things, a coed slipped him a small, hand-writ- ten note, which he tucked away. He walked with Gardner and re- ceiver Kelvin Grady across campus for lunch. He peaked at the note: "For your eyes only," it said in purple ink. "You seem like a really nice guy and I think it'd be cool to hang out with you. And no, I'm not a creepy stalker! Text me some time." Robinson grinned and shook his head. Grady demanded to see it, then started laughing immediately. "Ahh- hhh! Same note I got!" he said. Robinson wanted to go to Wendy's in the Michigan Union basement, like usual, but Grady argued for Noodles & Co., a long block down State Street. "Come on, man," Grady said, "I'm trying to expand your horizons!" "I like Wendy's, man." "But it's rivalry week!" "Exactly why," Robinson countered, "I don't want to change my routine." Robinson got his favorite, a Wendy's spicy chicken No. 6 combo meal, then sat down with his friends and team- mates. The woman at the next table, reading an anthropology textbook, asked, "How's your knee?" "What? My knee's fine. Where'd you get that?" "They said on TV." "Damn, already?" After lunch, Robinson walked past a retail tent selling yellow T-shirts with O n May 15, six-time national best-selling author John U. Bacon came out with his 10th book, The Best of Bacon: Select Cuts, a collection of his top 40 stories from his 25-year career covering sports for a dozen regional and national publications. These include features on Bo Schembechler, Gordie Howe, Ernie Harwell and Jim Abbott, plus first-person stories about getting killed playing the U.S. Open golf course, skating in a Detroit Vipers hockey practice and lifting in Michi- gan football's weight room — all written with heart and humor. Bacon will be appearing at the Ann Arbor District Library May 11, Chicago May 23, Traverse City's Indigo Hotel May 29 and Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor June 12. You can find more info on This excerpt, "Denard's Day," describes a typical day in the life of U-M quarterback Denard Robinson, which became one of The Wall Street Journal's top sports stories that year. The Best Of Bacon: SELECT CUTS Author John U. Bacon's 10th Book Features Several Michigan Pieces

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