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Published: Saturday, 12/31/2011

Robinson expects to return

Michigan QB has until Jan. 15 to declare for NFL draft

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Denard Robinson works out Friday in preparation for Tuesday's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Denard Robinson works out Friday in preparation for Tuesday's Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
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NEW ORLEANS -- Although he's flirting with the idea of forgoing his senior season at Michigan to enter the NFL draft, quarterback Denard Robinson doesn't sound like someone ready to make that leap.

"Oh yeah, I expect to be back," Robinson said Friday. "That's it."

Robinson said he has yet to receive feedback from the NFL draft advisory board, whom he recently submitted paperwork to get an idea where he might be selected in April's draft should he choose to leave Ann Arbor. He declined to say what assessment would be needed to make himself available to the NFL.

In Tuesday's Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech, Robinson will start for the 26th straight game, hoping to lead the Wolverines to their first win in a BCS game since the Rose Bowl in the 2004 season. Robinson's passing improved by the end of the regular season, but his arm strength and accuracy may still not be at a level desired by NFL scouts. However his speed and shiftiness make him attractive to play other positions, if not at quarterback.

The advisory board Robinson solicited for help is comprised of NFL general managers and directors of scouting combines. Its job is to predict what round underclassmen will be picked if they turn pro. Robinson, along with other nonseniors, have through Jan. 15 to declare for the draft.

"It was a decision that I was just like, [I will] put my name out there and see what happens," Robinson said, "and whatever happens, happens."

ON THE MOVE: Sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint attributes his production spike in the latter part of the season to improved vision, increased carries, and the California krump dance.

Huh?

Toussaint is a terrific dancer -- the best among his teammates, most say -- and believes the moves he breaks out on the dance floor are transferable to the football field.

"It gets me in shape," Toussaint said. "It helps my feet. Things like that. Energy. It's all about energy."

Toussaint had an opportunity to showcase his moves Thursday at a team dinner during a dance off against the Saints cheerleaders.

"It was a tie," he said.

Toussaint emerged as the missing piece on offense during the backstretch of the season, recording 100 yards or more in four of the final five games and finishing with 1,011 yards.

He said he builds his dance repertoire -- which might be described as having a hip-hop flavor -- from watching TV. His teammates Junior Hemingway and Ricardo Miller have decent dance skills too, "but that's about it" as far as the Wolverines go.

"I go to some clubs, not to dance, but by the end of the night I end up dancing anyway," he said. "It's one of my passions."

BLOCK PARTY: With Robinson and Toussaint clearing 1,000 rushing yards, the production of Michigan's receivers has suffered. But that doesn't mean they're not making an impact on offense. Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster said the Wolverines receivers "aren't good blockers, they're great blockers."

The receivers pride themselves on being "a nasty crew," Junior Hemingway said, and trying to "embarrass the [defensive backs] and try to put them on their back."

Roy Roundtree delivered the most memorable block this year, says Hemingway, when he hit Nebraska All-America linebacker Lavonte David so hard that his head snapped back. Hemingway got his first glimpse of the play during film study.

"We started celebrating like it was the game that day," he said.



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