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March 15, 2013Denard Robinson is coming to a video game near you. EA Sports announced earlier this week that Robinson had bested Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope in an online head-to-head vote, and will adorn the cover of NCAA Football 2014.
"I wanted to start dancing," Robinson said. "It was an exciting moment for me. Growing up, I never thought I would be on the cover. I'd wish I would be, like, 'Yeah, I'm going to be that guy.' But it actually happened, and you can only say, 'Wow.'
"I still don't believe it's true, because I haven't seen it. It's unreal to me."
Robinson, who has said he has played the famed college football game since he was a kid, received more than a quarter of a million votes in the finals to edge Swope. A spokesperson from EA Sports has not responded to interview requests to discuss what Robinson's win could mean for sales of the video game, which was released last year on July 10 and has consistently been released in either June or July, but the benefits to Michigan are more intangible than tangible.
"It's a great honor but any marketing value is intrinsic and not measurable," said David Ablauf, Associate Athletic Director, Media and Public Relations. "It's more about the exposure of being on the cover. And that is great for Denard and our fans."
Robinson is the third former Wolverine to make the cover, joining Charles Woodson in 1999 and Desmond Howard in 2006.
The game's cover has typically featured a recently-graduated senior and broke from this tradition to feature Howard as EA Sports introduced a new element to its franchise: Race for the Heisman; Howard was the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner.
Robinson joked he hopes he'll receive some royalties from the announcement, but wasn't sure. For now, he's committed to improving his draft stock, participating in Thursday's Pro Day after participating in the NFL Combine Feb. 24.
A three-year starter at quarterback, and Michigan's all-time leader in total offense (10,745) and touchdowns accounted for (91), Robinson is trying to make it as a wide receiver.
"It's unreal," said classmate Jordan Kovacs, a safety. "I could not [change positions]. Heck no. That's tough.
"Just seeing how much work he's put in, it's unbelievable. He's definitely helped his stock. He showed significant improvement going into the Combine. And then [yesterday] I thought he looked great in the position drills, showed good hands.
"It probably hasn't even been half a year, and he's picking it up fast. He's an athletic kid so if you get him the ball in space he's going to make a few guys miss."
Robinson experienced a difficult week at Senior Bowl practices and the actual game Jan. 26, and at the time, scouts said his draft stock had tumbled, but he's gradually moved back up, and likely will be selected in the second or third round of the NFL Draft April 25-27.
"I knew it was going to be hard to change," he said. "I don't want anything in life to be easy - I want to work for it. Once I saw what I had to work at, I wanted to focus and continue to get better.
"I looked at the film from that and said, 'I can do this better and this better' and I picked it up. No false steps out of the break, not looking down at the ground. Doing the little things that will help.
"[At Pro Day], I was talking to a receivers coach and some of the guys, and they were like, 'Your first year, you're not going to be good at everything. But you get good at one thing and then move on to the next and continue to get better at everything.' I want to be the best at everything, so every time I touch the ball, I want to be the best at it."