JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Denard Robinson is going back to college with a little NFL experience.
The former Michigan star made his debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday, showing off his speed and versatility as the team opened a three-day rookie minicamp.
A fifth-round pick making the transition from quarterback to running back, Robinson took the majority of repetitions with the first-team offense and even upstaged first-rounder Luke Joeckel. With maize-and-blue clad fans cheering his every move in a pouring rain, Robinson broke several long runs and caught all but one pass thrown his way. He lined up in the backfield and at receiver during the two-hour practice.
The only negative was that the Jaguars won't get to see more of him for a couple weeks. Robinson headed back to Ann Arbor following practice for his college graduation. He will miss the final two days of camp, returning in time for the start of organized team activities April 13.
"It's real special to me because I'll be the first in my family to graduate from a four-year school," said Robinson, who grew up in Deerfield Beach, about 300 miles from Jacksonville. "That's something that I want to show my nieces and nephews, that you can graduate, that you take this way out, that we can do it. This is special for me."
So is the opportunity he's getting with Jacksonville.
Looking for playmakers to improve one of the league's worst offenses, the Jaguars selected Robinson with the 135th overall pick in last week's draft. General manager Dave Caldwell fell in love with Robinson during his college days, saying he's amazed "about how passionate he is about football, how loved he is at that school amongst his teammates and how he just goes about his business."
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch was equally excited about the addition.
"It's kind of fun just to get a feel for what he can do," Fisch said. "I know he's certainly a weapon from looking at all his college film. Now, it's a matter of what can he do best for us. We're looking forward to being able to move around to a lot of other spots as well."
Robinson started 37 games for the Wolverines, including 35 at quarterback. He finished with 6,250 yards passing and 49 touchdowns to go along with 4,495 yards rushing (an NCAA record for quarterbacks) and 42 more scores.