ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It didn't click immediately for Denard Robinson on the night Desmond Howard was honored with a Legends Patch on the No. 21 jersey last season. Robinson was busy, had a game to prepare for, play in and eventually star in against Notre Dame.
But the memory of that night, when Howard became overwhelmed with emotion as Junior Hemingway ran out of the Michigan Stadium tunnel wearing No. 21 with the Desmond Howard patch on his shoulder, stuck with him.
More than any current Michigan player and in a select group with one or two other players at the school in the past decade, Robinson has had a career that could put him in position to have his own Legends Patch one day.
"It didn't kick in until after that season, when you think about stuff like that, being honored as one of the greats at the University of Michigan," Robinson said. "To be one of the legendary jerseys, that would be an honor for me to wear this jersey. That's something I look at now and just think, 'I see the No. 1 jersey, the No. 21 jersey, it's an honor to wear that jersey, a privilege to wear that jersey.'
"If that ever happened with me, with the 16, that would be an honor."
It is possible. Robinson is on pace to become the NCAA's all-time leader in rushing yards for a quarterback. He is on pace to be at or near the top of almost every rushing, passing and all-purpose statistical category in Michigan history.
Howard has long been a role model for Robinson, from a chance airport meeting before Robinson's career at Michigan started to today, when the Deerfield Beach, Fla., native has become the heart, soul, engine and major productive force for Howard's alma mater.
"I can't say I've spoken to [Robinson] about that," Howard said. "I've spoken to the team about their legacies as a team, but I can't remember speaking to him individually about his individual legacy."
Howard, though, didn't rule out eventually having that conversation.
"I've never thought about it. If the timing comes up because of something that's happening, then I would," Howard said. "But I think that Denard, he gets it. I spoke to the team about it and they saw that I was honored that night and what Michigan football and history and tradition is about.
"So I think he gets it, but the situation would have to present itself."
Robinson understands the tradition at Michigan. Whether he fully grasps it or not, he is also a major part of the recent legacy of the Wolverines. Through some of their toughest seasons in the past five decades, Robinson became the biggest positive development out of it.
When he saw Howard receive the patch, he got excited -- for both a man he looks up to and also because he allowed himself to think into the future.
"When you see stuff like that, that is something you want to cherish," Robinson said. "Because one day maybe you want to see yourself in that position.
"You want everybody that surrounds you that is playing when you get honored to pay that respect and that homage to you."
A couple of decades from now, it is certainly possible.