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January 22, 2013

Notes: Derrick Green, Robinson's draft status & more

Denard Robinson's last game as a collegian Robinson will come Jan. 26 in the Senior Bowl - and he'll play wide receiver (artwork up front courtesy of seven-year-old Layne of Ann Arbor). Robinson traveled to Mobile, Ala., this weekend to prepare for the game, which will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and will be televised on NFL Network.

Fans also can watch Robinson practice for the North squad (Jan. 21-24) on NFL Network, with Monday's practice at 4 p.m. Practice sessions Tuesday-Thursday will be televised at 2 p.m. on the network.

Mlive.com reports that Robinson caught the ball well Monday, though he was limited from contact after U-M doctors wouldn't clear him, but struggled Tuesday to catch punts.

Robinson has signed with agent Pat Dye, Jr. and is projected by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. to go no later than the second round.

"He's just a great football player," Kiper said in a conference call. "Everybody loves his passion for the game, his toughness - obviously he has great speed, great athleticism, great versatility. He can catch the ball; he can run with the ball. Some people think he can play cornerback. I think he's going to be an offensive entity."

Robinson told the Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis he'd been working with a receivers coach (his "secret weapon," though he won't reveal who it is until this week) and was willing to play anywhere asked in the NFL.

"Whatever, I'll be open to it," Robinson said. "They draft me as a cornerback, I have to do it, right? I like the ball in my hands. I like catching the ball and having the ball, but at cornerback, you could go get the ball and make a play happen."

He returned punts during Outback Bowl practices. Some believe he'll be a return man extraordinaire.

"I caught the ball pretty well," he said. "I dropped a couple of them, I'm not going to lie to you, but I caught it pretty well. It's something you've got to get the hang of."

As for the receivers coach - there's some speculation that former Michigan and Iowa coach Erik Campbell is the guy, having recently left his position as receivers coach with the Hawkeyes.

As for the "Dnarb" Robinson picture - an unsolicited contribution from a little girl and big Robinson fan that was too awesome not to share.

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Five graduating seniors extended their seasons with post- postseason bowl games. U-M wide receiver Roy Roundtree notched one catch for 39 yards in the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic - and it was SportsCenter's No. 9 play of the day, an over the shoulder grab (below).



Defensive tackle Will Campbell played for the East team in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Saturday evening but didn't stand out despite a great week of practice. He measured at 6-5, 318 pounds.

"Another day in which Campbell looked like a man amongst boys," Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.com wrote after one practice. "Big, strong, controlling lineman that constantly pushed blockers off the ball and into the backfield. Was dominant at times and could not be stopped. Did not show great quickness or a closing burst. More of a gap occupier and pocket collapser than playmaker.

"That said his motor is being questioned not only by scouts but by the West coaches. He looked disinterested and took shortcuts at times"

Offensive lineman Elliott Mealer played plenty in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. over the weekend, seeing time at tackle. He helped lead the National to a 34-0 win against the American. Safety Jordan Kovacs will play in the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Bowl in Allen, Texas. (1:30 p.m. Feb. 2), to be televised on FOX Sports Southwest.

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On Sunday, former Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko, coming off one of his best games of the year in an AFC Divisional win over Houston, kicked for the New England Patriots in the AFC title game against Baltimore, a stunning, 28-13 loss that sends the Patriots home. Mesko and his charity work with the Zoltan Mesko Foundation will be the subject of this week's Where Are They Now? in the print version of the magazine.

Mesko is one of U-M's great success stories of the past decade, a business school graduate who is making a difference. He is also among those who is a huge believer in new head coach Brady Hoke.

"He's done a great job," Mesko said. "I've spoken to him quite a few times since he was hired. . He's been out to Boston and I think we spent about three hours together. His wife is a sweetheart, and they are both really down to earth people."

Mesko said the buzz about Michigan is strong even in the Boston area.

"You can see why it's no surprise why he's getting the recruits he's getting, because he's such a genuine person," Mesko said. "The way he delivers his message, what Michigan football is about, you have no other choice but to trust the guy."

As reported, Hoke had a different message in speaking to hundreds of Michigan high school football coaches last Friday in Kalamazoo, calling the Wolverines' 2012, 8-5 campaign - well, less than stellar.

"We had a s****y season, to be honest with you," coaches in attendance said after hearing Hoke at the MHSFA's Winner's Circle Clinic. "It was a bad year, but I'm proud of the kids and how they kept moving forward."

It wasn't the year Michigan deserves, though, Hoke added, and word has it that's been the message delivered behind closed doors before winter conditioning - that it's year three, and time for everybody (including coaches) to live up to the high expectations.

That means becoming the type of team nobody outworks, starting with the seniors.

Not surprisingly, word has emerged that fifth-year senior tackle Taylor Lewan has put on more of a game face and become a leader in offseason workout sessions. He passed up first round NFL money to win a Big Ten title, and he's intent on making sure everyone is on the same page.

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A quick note on Richmond (Va.) Hermitage running back Derrick Green, Rivals.com's No. 1 running back nationally. Green will decide at 4:00 Saturday during a press conference in his hometown, and Rivals.com's Mike Farrell believes U-M still has a lead over Tennessee and Auburn (though maybe not as large as he once believed).

The thought here - many times you can look at a young player's list of schools and play the "one of these things is not like the other game" to eliminate at least one contender (which would be Michigan in this case). This one, though, has a different vibe to it. Green has an outstanding support system around him and seems to be making his choice for all the right reasons.

We'll find out soon enough if that means it's U-M.

As for five-star wide receiver LaQuon Treadwell of Crete (Ill.) Monee and his decision to attend Mississippi - that one was all but over this summer when it became apparent he was looking for something else in a school.

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Finally, we caught up with former Wolverine big man Mark Hughes, now the director of scouting for the NBA's New York Knicks, for another article in this week's print version of The Wolverines. Hughes can't talk specifics about the individual players, but he insisted he was thrilled with the direction of the program, had spoken to head coach John Beilein recently to lend his support and vowed to be in Ann Arbor for U-M's home game with Penn State later in the schedule.

Hughes, one of Michigan basketball's greatest ambassadors, said he firmly believes this year's team has a legitimate shot to win not only the Big Ten title, but also the school's second national championship. Vegas would agree with him, establishing the Wolverines as the favorite to win it all with 5:1 odds.

Indiana, Louisville and Florida come in at 6:1 while Duke is at 7:1.


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