TAMPA — Denard Robinson is easily the highest-profile player on the Michigan football team, but he’s one of a handful who has returned to the Sunshine State for Tuesday’s Outback Bowl against South Carolina.
The No. 19 Wolverines (8-4) have 11 Floridians on the roster, while No. 11 South Carolina (10-2) has 13 players on its roster from football-rich Florida.
Ricky Barnum, an offensive lineman for the Wolverines, has made plenty of preparations for the bowl game at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium — his final game as a Wolverine.
“It’s very important to me,” Barnum said of playing 35 miles west of his hometown of Lakeland, Fla. “Sure, it’s not the Rose Bowl, but it’s important to a lot of guys from Florida. Playing in front of a lot of family members, I’ll have like 50-some tickets, so I think it’s important, to me, to play in front of my family.”
Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons, who is from West Palm Beach, Fla., gets a chance to play in another NFL stadium — he kicked the game-winning field goal against Virginia Tech in January’s Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints.
This venue is a little closer to Gibbons’ home, as well as his pro football loyalties.
“Kicking here, I’m a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, so I think it will be fun to kick in Raymond James,” said Gibbons, who sported newly shorn hair. “It will be easy to travel, for my family and friends, so that’s always nice to do.”
ROUNDTREE RELOCATES: Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree told reporters this week that he has relocated to Florida in order to pursue an NFL career.
The fifth-year senior does not have an agent yet, and has yet to find a trainer. Roundtree graduated in April with a degree in general studies and began working toward a master’s degree in social work during the fall semester.
In 12 games this season, Roundtree was second in receiving for the Wolverines behind Drew Dileo with 28 catches for 553 yards and three touchdowns, despite missing most of the preseason after undergoing surgery to repair torn cartilage in his knee.
Roundtree finished his four seasons with 151 catches for 2,277 yards and 15 touchdowns. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., projected Roundtree as late pick in April’s NFL Draft.
NO QB CONTROVERSY: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said last week that Connor Shaw will start at quarterback against the Wolverines, but that Dylan Thompson will get playing time in the bowl game.
SHOWCASE INVITES: A handful of Wolverines have the option to play one more game as college seniors after the Outback Bowl.
Robinson said he received an invite to the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala., while Roundtree was chosen to participate in the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic on Jan. 19 in Montgomery, Ala.
Defensive lineman Will Campbell received an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla.