CHICAGO — For months, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez has been adamant that the quarterback competition between sophomores Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier is wide open.
But during day two of the Big Ten football media days, senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk said that isn’t necessarily the case.
“Denard has been out there through the thick and thin and been out there all the time regardless if he’s hurting,” Woolfolk said. “And Tate, he tries to come out, but he’s not as consistent as Denard is. And that’s allowed Denard to jump a little bit ahead of Tate and I think that Tate’s going to have to do a lot of work to catch back up to Denard in camp this year.”
According to Woolfolk, what was once a neck-and-neck race between Forcier and Robinson for the starting quarterback job has begun to tip in Robinson’s favor. And a big reason for that, Woolfolk said, is the team’s perception of players who don’t show up to voluntary workouts.
“I personally have a lack of respect for them,” Woolfolk said. “The outlook on them is kind of diseased. Like you don’t want to be hanging around those people because they have bad work ethic. But at the same time, it’s my role to try to persuade them to come out more.”
According to Woolfolk, Forcier hasn’t shown up to as many workouts as he and the other seniors feel he should have, and Woolfolk said it’s hurting his teammates’ perception of their signal caller.
“The only reason he’s not really labeled as diseased is because of the way he was able to carry the team last year before we started losing. People still trust him a little bit, but he’s starting to lose that trust.”
And by all accounts, Robinson, who has shown up to workouts consistently since they started, is earning that trust. As a fill-in for Forcier last year, Robinson showed promise as a runner and athlete, but was erratic throwing the ball, throwing for four interceptions and two touchdowns.
Robinson has greatly improved his passing during the offseason, but, according to some players, he has also made strides off the field.
“He’s definitely taken on some leadership,” fifth-year senior offensive lineman Steve Schilling said. “He’s there every day working hard. He’s been a guy that doesn’t complain. He makes you want to play for him, and he has those qualities to be a special leader and a special quarterback.”
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said Monday that he warned Forcier early in the offseason that the competition for the starting job would be stiff.
“I talked to him in the spring about this: ‘You’re getting a challenge from Denard, you’re getting a challenge from (freshman) Devin (Gardner). If you’re a true competitor, we’ll see how you respond.’ That challenge will continue in August.”
Forcier still has a chance to respond during camp, but as of now it appears, at least in the players’ eyes, the once-wide-open competition has a leader.