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I’ll be honest: I don’t play football video games, but I’m absolutely obsessed with college football in real life. So when publisher EA Sports offered me the opportunity to interview my team’s star quarterback of the past few years to discuss the upcoming NCAA Football 14, I [did not care does not matter must say yes] accepted.
The University of Michigan’s Denard Robinson recently won a Facebook vote to be the cover star on the next edition of the video game. He narrowly beat out former Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope in a controversial contest (EA Sports worked with Facebook to eliminate ballot-box-stuffing fake accounts created on both sides). He’s broken multiple NCAA and Michigan records as a running quarterback, and he’s now preparing for the NFL draft later this month.
As busy as he’s been, Robinson took some time out to stop by EA Sports’ studios to see the game that will be featuring his face on the box when it hits the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this July. During that visit, he got on the phone with me for a couple of minutes to answer a few questions in what may be the second-shortest interview I’ve ever conducted (here’s the other one). It’s a little fluffy, but hey, it’s OK. I’m a little clueless when it comes to the video game, and the guy’s got to get ready to make more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime.
Above: Robinson, from his photo shoot to be on the next cover of NCAA Football
GamesBeat: I notice that college football players will sometimes play as teams other than their own. Who’s your team when it’s not Michigan?
Denard Robinson: I only play Michigan. I can’t play anyone else.
GamesBeat: Which team do you always want to beat up on?
Robinson: Of course I like going up against Michigan State and Ohio [Michigan coach Brady Hoke’s nickname for Ohio State — Ed].
GamesBeat: EA Sports wants to better reflect modern college football by revamping the A.I. — to make zone-read plays behave more realistically, for example. The zone-read is your specialty. Did you see this in action or offer any input to the development team?
Robinson: They did a great job with the zone-read. It’s going to be a lot more fun playing with mobile quarterbacks now. They’re going to be harder to stop.
GamesBeat: EA also wants to tweak the running game’s physics, like foot-planting that takes into account weight, speed, change in direction, and so on. It reminds me of that Sports Science video that ESPN did that compared you to a space shuttle. Will you be offering any suggestions here?
Robinson: You actually plant your foot now to make guys miss you. You see a seam now, and if you see a defender going one way — to the right — you can plant your right foot then cut back to the left. It’s perfect.
GamesBeat: How does it feel winning the cover vote for NCAA Football 14?
Robinson: It’s a dream come true. I’m truly blessed, and it’s a great honor.
GamesBeat: Do you think this will help your draft stock? How important is it to your future earnings to be the cover athlete?
Robinson: [Laughs] I really don’t know about that!
More screens and photos from NCAA Football 14: