Take a look at Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson. Take a really good look. Notice something familiar? Think back.
On Sept. 1 2007, Michigan endured arguably the most devastating loss of its storied football program's history against Appalachian State, a Division I FCS team. The Wolverines were ranked fifth in both the coaches' poll and the AP Poll, and favored by many to go the national championship game.
That was before the team met a young man named Armanti Edwards, the App State quarterback who burned Michigan with his feet and his arms en route to a 34-32 win. Edwards threw for 227 yards and three touchdowns. He also was the team's second leading rusher with 62 yards and a touchdown.
Now, take a look at Edwards, then look again at Robinson. Do you see the similarities? Could it be that Edwards, the engineer of Michigan's worst defeat, was actually a mirror into the Wolverine's future?
My answer is yes. And here are the five comparisons that brought me to this conclusion:
1. Appearance - Edwards is currently listed at 5 feet 11 inches, weighing in at 187 pounds. Robinson is an even 6-0 and weighs 197, which is pretty light, in my opinion, given the typical bulky quarterbacks in the Big Ten. Then, when I see Robinson actually play, I have to question the accuracy his weight. It's not totally implausible for Michigan to embellish a player's weight for the sake of public image. Robinson could easily be 10 pounds lighter. Both guys are lanky, long-limbed, and appear frail at first glance. The similarities in there body types are uncanny. They also take similar strides when they run.
2. Playing Styles - Edwards and Robinson both have similar strengths at the collegiate level. Edwards and the Mountaineers ran the spread offense, something I don't think Michigan had ever seen before prior to facing the Mountaineers. Two years later, Robinson was recruited to Michigan to do the same thing for former coach Rich Rodriquez. And had there been a coach in the Big Ten bold enough to recruit him, Edwards surely could have been doing the same things at the Division I level. Against Michigan, when things got rough or when plays broke down, Edwards made something crazy happen with his feet. Robinson does the exact same thing. Edwards finished his career with 4,361 total rushing yards. In three years, Robinson already has 3,229 total rushing yards.
3. Weaknesses - When I talk to FCS fans about Edwards, a lot of people make a big deal about his passing abilities. But in the game against Michigan, in addition to his three touchdowns, he also threw two interceptions. Robinson also has a bad habit of throwing balls up in the air and expecting the receivers to make plays, resulting in boneheaded interceptions that change the game. For his career, Edwards threw a total of 33 interceptions. In three seasons with the Wolverines, Robinson has already thrown 30 INTs. Another weakness is their size. All of that running and dynamic playmaking left Edwards exposed and more vulnerable to injury. It's the same with Robinson in the Big Ten.
4. Pro Career Paths - Edwards is currently a wide receiver/kickoff returner for the Carolina Panthers. As great as Robinson is at Michigan, nobody believes that he'll be a true NFL quarterback, so he'll probably be heading down the same path. Both players are much too skinny and short to play any other position. Even teams that use the option or wildcat offenses tend to using bigger players like Tim Tebow and Brad Smith. Edwards draws a paycheck from the NFL because of his speed, agility, and his experience handling the ball. Robinson will most likely have to do the same.
5. Awards and Acolades - Edwards finished his college career with a myriad of accomplishments that span through the FCS. Heading into his senior season, Robinson has already accumulated similar recognition in the FBS. Both hold single-season records for rushing yards by quarterback (in the FCS and FBS, respectively). Both have led their conferences in total offense (Robinson in the Big Ten, Edwards in the Southern). In his two seasons as the starting QB, Robinson had been in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy. Edwards twice won the Walter Payton Award, the FCS equivalent to the Heisman.
Other Eerie Traits - Edwards wore the number 14 during his time at App State. Denard wears number 16. Why might this be important? Robinson enrolled at the University of Michigan in 2009, exactly two years after the Wolverines fell to App State. Both players have similar braided hair styles with small differences. Edwards' braids were thicker and shorter. Robinson's are longer and thinner.
Stats and other information taken from the following sources: ESPN.com, MGOBLUE.com, NCAA.com, GoASU.com, NFL.com.
Aaron David Harris is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn (Class of 2007). He also covered sports in Michigan for four years at The Battle Creek Enquirer (in Battle Creek, MI). Visit him at www.aarondavidharris.com.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Armanti Edwards