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Introducing the Two-Deep: Marvin Robinson

Over the last few weeks we here at Maize n Brew have been looking for interesting ways to fill the long summer months. We know you all crave college football, and we aim to please (even if it means subjecting you to a week of Indiana football coverage).

While a look around the Big Ten is fun and helps all of us better understand the current realities that govern the conference, it just isn't Michigan football fergodsakes. With that thought in mind we set out to find a way to look deeper at Team 133 during a time when there isn't anything new to talk about. At first we contemplated doing a countdown of the top-X players on the team, but then we remembered that Magnus already does that, and does a damn fine job with it. There was nothing to add on that end.

From there the idea mutated into something we all felt was more beneficial to the readers, and frankly, more interesting to write about: an introduction to Michigan's two-deep for 2012. Now, I hear what you are mumbling under your breath at the computer, but Zach, it is May, who the hell knows what the two deep looks like? For the most part, things are settled, and where they aren't we plan to address it and make sense of the uncertainty (wide receiver, anyone?). By the end of July the hope is we all know the team a little better and just maybe we found a way to pass the time until football season.

Look for a new profile every weekday for the next two months as we work our way from defense to offense, secondary to line to skill players.


Marvin Robinson has been a lot of things to Michigan fans over the past few years.

He started out as the next great five-star hope. While still an underclassman in high school he was turning heads on the camp circuit with physical play that far exceeded his years. Scouts raved about a college ready body, a perfect frame for growth, and the ability to keep up with all sorts of skill position players in the passing game while still laying the lumber in run support. He had all the makings of a five-star... until all of the sudden he didn't anymore.

His junior year on the camp circuit was less productive, and Robinson spent his senior year injured and playing on a winless team. The player many pegged as the next big recruit couldn't even hang on to his place on many top recruit lists, including the Rivals top-250 which he was left off entirely in the final set of reevaluations.

The problem stemmed from any number of common reasons that "the next big thing" in recruiting turns into another borderline four-star. Maybe Robinson was too big and too fast too soon, and while other players developed rapidly as they got older Robinson was only able to muster marginal improvement. Maybe it was a simply respectable forty time of 4.6 seconds that soured recruitniks on his future as the next five-star safety prospect. And just maybe it was the fact that 6'1, 205 doesn't fit well into the mold of a traditional 4-3 defense (unless it is accompanied by a 4.4 40, then hoooo boy, watch out).

Robinson had regressed from "the next big thing" to a guy with an uncertain future before he ever set foot on campus.

Still, Robinson had a unique skill set that looked to fit in well with the newly adapted 3-3-5 defense that Michigan would be switching to in the 2010 season. Despite Robinson's less than ideal speed for a deep safety, his instincts as a run stopper and the aforementioned college ready body* fit the profile of box safety, the same role that similarly skilled Stevie Brown excelled in a year before. In the running with a walk-on, a redshirt freshman, and the Mike Williams Experience for the box safety job opposite Jordan Kovacs, it seemed that Robinson had a good chance to win the lion's share of the playing time. That ended with Thomas Gordon pretty much locking down the job by the Notre Dame game and Marvin Robinson seeing the field in special teams duty.

*(I kid you not, there are some disturbing reviews of the kid's physical prowess. Berry Every said after a Nike camp that Robinson was "Without a doubt the prettiest looking prospect competing in the defensive back group." Scouts fawned over Robinson's abs so much that I am pretty sure it helped inspire the mgo "OMG-shirtless" meme -- I was still an mgo-novice at the time. College football recruiting: where grown men get paid to objectify high school-aged athletes.)

Last season with yet another defensive scheme change coming down, Robinson once again moved positions, this time to strong safety. He played well enough during fall camp to earn playing time at safety on and off early in the year, including the Notre Dame game -- his only start of the season. While it was the most productive game of his career with seven tackles, you probably remember how it ended for him. The rest of the time was spent on special teams duty and in a backup role.

Then, Marvin Robinson disappeared. At first, in true Fort Schembechler fashion, he was out with an "undisclosed injury", but later in the fall reports began to surface that Robinson was actually in a bit of legal trouble that stemmed from him being accused of breaking into a West Quad room to steal a video game in September. As the legal process drug on, Robinson's 2011 season was effectively done.

Later in the spring things began to clear up for Robinson. He started practicing with the team again, and a trial date was set but reports began to surface that Robinson would be able to plea to a lesser charge and avoid a conviction -- instead serving probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. Today, Robinson's status on the team seems to be heading in a positive direction barring any sudden changes.

What does this mean for 2012?

Marvin Robinson will almost certainly enter fall camp as the second option at strong safety behind Jordan Kovacs. The rest of the strong safety depth chart as of August will be redshirt freshman Tamani Carter and true freshman Allen Gant -- both middling three-star recruits -- so yeah, let's hope the four-star junior takes the reins as the second option behind Kovacs.

As for what to expect, there were some rumblings that Robinson performed poorly earlier in the spring, but one would have to assume that given all his legal troubles that he would be a bit behind the rest of the team depending on the severity of the punishment imposed behind closed doors by the coaches. In any matter, Robinson did show some good things in spring camp videos.

Thankfully, as long as Jordan Kovacs can stay healthy Robinson should be able to have a chance to get more up to speed in the defense as a backup/garbage time player. The physical tools are there for him to develop futher, but it would take one helluva "light on" fall camp for Robinson to even approach pushing Jordan Kovacs for time. Thankfully, Robinson should provide solid depth this year before one would imagine him assuming the starting role in 2013.

Although we are still a ways away from Marvin Robinson living up to the considerable hype that followed him early in his career, it is nice to finally see a former four-star junior as a backup at safety. That has been a long time coming my friends.