The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 31 "SHOE" at the top, "LACE" at the bot- tom and an untied cleat in the middle, providing both Robinson's nickname and its source. "Think they'd give me one?" Robin- son said, walking by unnoticed. "Only if you want an NCAA violation," I re- plied, recalling a similar conversation Chris Webber once had with Mitch Albom. "That's crazy," he said, smiling. I didn't have the heart to tell him a rep- lica of the number 16 jersey he wore on Saturdays was going for $70 down the block. Walking back across the street to Gardner's truck, a stranger coming toward us struck the Heisman pose, with no words spoken. Robinson smiled and shook his head. "That's crazy, too!" Next up, a one-hour meeting with a professor to discuss a paper. "I like writing papers," he told me. "I don't like tests." By 2 p.m., Robinson was back in the cold tub. While up to his chest in frigid water, with his elbows on the deck, he borrowed a cell phone to handle a national press conference with ESPN and others on the line. Robinson then rushed off to a quarterbacks' meeting at 2:30. Practice started at 3:30. Members of Michigan's football royalty lined the field to watch, including former ath- letic directors and star players. Like most teams today, Michigan hits only on Tuesdays and even then, it's just glorified pushing and shov- ing. But on this Wednesday, you could hear the pads smack, each hit packing more punch than usual. When practice ended, Robinson led the quarterbacks in their ritual chest bump, then showered and headed to the training room for yet more treat- ment. It was 6:49 and Robinson had already been on the go for 12 hours. A trainer gave Robinson different kneepads to try on. Next, more ul- tra-sound. All told, over the course of three sessions lasting three and a half hours, Robinson underwent more than two dozen treatments for his knee including the cold tub, a pool workout, the stationary bike, a dead lift, micro-electrodes, ultrasounds and low-level laser therapy. At 7:30, Robinson sat down with a few teammates in the commons for dinner and conversation. In less than an hour, Robinson ate two biscuits, 16 chicken wings, two Gatorades, two caramel cheesecakes and a big scoop of rice. All told, he consumed well over 4,000 calories that day — which paled in comparison to the linemen's max of 14,000 calories a day. Afterward, in the team meeting room, Robinson and teammates Vin- cent Smith, Junior Hemingway and Darryl Stonum hunkered down to watch film of the previous year's loss to Michigan State on the big screen. The players were struck by how poorly they had played in the 26-20 overtime loss. "Man, we played so bad in this game," Stonum said, "and we still al- most won it." "I can't wait for game time," Hemingway said. "I wish it was to- morrow." "Any requests?" Stonum asked, go- ing through their film catalogue. "Third and longs," Robinson said. While Stonum fished around for the file on the computer, the players talked about how long their day had already been. "Classmates say, 'You look tired,'" Hemingway said. "Yes, I just finished lifting for 90 minutes, before you woke up." "Or they say, 'You walk slow,'" Rob- inson said. "Yes, I do. It's because I'm dead." After working like crazy during conditioning and practice, when the players leave the football building they walk slower than their grandpar- ents, barely lifting their feet. At 10:34 p.m., they finally walked out of Schembechler Hall for the last time that day — only to be met by middle-aged autograph seekers who would post their new prizes on eBay 30 minutes later. Robinson would be in bed by 11, then do it all again the next day — plus a workout and study table. I had only followed him that day — and I was exhausted. ❏ Quarterback Denard Robinson was named second-team All-Big Ten by the media after the 2011 season. He threw for 2,173 yards and 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,176 yards and 16 more scores during his junior campaign. The Wolverines went 11-2 and finished ranked No. 12 by the Associated Press. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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