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Denard Robinson aims to find ‘diamonds in the rough’ for Michigan

Robinson breaks down what he hopes to accomplish in Ann Arbor.

Air Force Falcons v Michigan Wolverines Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was recently named Michigan’s Assistant Director of Player Personnel after spending two years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2020 Robinson was an offensive quality control coach, and in 2021 he was a college scouting assistant.

“I always thought in the back of my head ‘I’m gonna do something with football or along the lines of football when I’m done playing’ — whether it was coaching, or being in the player personnel department, it was something I was gonna be around. I love the game too much to walk away from it,” Robinson said on In the Trenches with Jon Jansen.

Robinson said he enjoyed being on the coaching side of things as quality control, but has grown to appreciate the scouting side just as much.

“I enjoy seeing how everything comes together on the player personnel side. You see how you build a team and what pieces you need to fill the holes that you’re missing on the team,” Robinson said. “So it’s kind of cool to see that side of football — you get to guys backgrounds, get to see how they’ll fit with us, what would be better for the team.”

Robinson said the exciting part of scouting was being tasked with finding players other teams may have missed, finding diamonds in the rough.

One of the diamonds Robinson scouted was running back Elijah Mitchell, who was ultimately drafted in the 6th round last year by the San Francisco 49ers. Mitchell had an excellent rookie campaign, rushing for 963 yards and hauling in 19 receptions. “I was just like, man, a lot of people didn’t look at that guy,” Robinson said, saying it gives him joy seeing stories like this.

When asked what goes into scouting a player like Mitchell, Robinson said what he’s looking for first and foremost is something that can’t be taught.

“You gotta have the ‘it’ factor for me. You can’t coach it, you can’t put it in somebody. You either got it or you don’t got it. You could see that ‘it’ factor. He had good vision, good feet, you can’t tell a guy how to run the ball — it’s an art.”

Robinson will need to hit the ground running, because Michigan’s aiming to build off a successful 2021 season in which they went 12-2 and made the College Football Playoff. For the former Wolverine nicknamed ‘Shoelace’, being back in Ann Arbor is something he calls “a dream come true”.

“It’s man amazing, man, to be a part of that, try to help build the team back up and get them back on the right way, continue to win,” Robinson said. That’s the biggest thing, so I’m just excited to be on campus and be around the future Wolverines. These guys will carry on the legacy of Michigan. Now I get to help build that again and be a part of that, not in a helmet.”

While Robinson may not be suiting up in a helmet and pads any longer, he aims to find electric playmakers that can aid Michigan’s quest for championships.

“I’ll be trying to find those diamonds in the rough, have them at The Big House running wild and having fun, being great young men, becoming great men — on the campus of the University of Michigan,” Robinson said. “I can’t wait to interact with these athletes and these families. It’s going to be a life-changing situation. I want to help mold these guys and be a part of it.”