2011 Countdown: #25 Devin Gardner

2011 Countdown: #25 Devin Gardner

August 6, 2011
Devin Gardner

Name: Devin Gardner
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 210 lbs.
High school: Inkster High School in Detroit, MI
Position: Quarterback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #7
Last year: I ranked Gardner #72 and said he would redshirt.  He did.  Wait, no he didn’t.  Yes, he did.  Maybe not.  He played in 3 games and went 7/10 for 85 yards and 1 touchdown.  He also ran the ball 7 times for 21 yards and 1 touchdown.

Ah yes, the Devin Gardner situation.  Oh, how I can’t wait to revisit this one.  Gardner came into 2010 as the presumed #3 quarterback, with a returning starter (Tate Forcier) and the spring game superstar (Denard Robinson) ahead of him.  With two guys who were “known commodities,” it makes sense to redshirt your #3 guy, especially if he’s a potential star down the road.  But in the first game of the 2010 season against Connecticut, the starter (Robinson) exited the game with a minor hip injury and drama ensued.  Michigan fans sat enthralled by two quarterbacks warming up on the sideline: the returning starter and presumed #2 guy (Forcier) and the freshman (Gardner).  Gardner handed the ball once and lost four yards on the second play, Forcier looked confused on the sideline, and Robinson returned after a couple plays.  Forcier told a reporter “I’m out” when the game was over, and everyone assumed that meant he was transferring.  Meanwhile, I ranted against Rich Rodriguez for burning Gardner’s redshirt and pushing Forcier out the door.  Gardner played in two more games, handing off the ball against Notre Dame and putting up the above stats mostly against Bowling Green (aside from the one carry against Connecticut).  Then Gardner mysteriously developed a “back issue” that prevented him from being the primary backup during the last two-thirds of the season, giving way to Forcier.

Almost one year later . . .

. . . Forcier is gone.  He flunked out of school and has been rumored to be transferring to Miami, Hawaii, San Diego State, Montana, Grand Valley State, or even institutions that don’t field football programs.  Gardner’s redshirt status remains up in the air, since playing even one snap technically prevents a redshirt, although he can file a request for a waiver due to his mysterious “back issue” that miraculously cleared itself up prior to the bowl game.  Conveniently, that was just in time to be the #2 quarterback against Mississippi State with Forcier academically ineligible.

Gardner was again the #2 quarterback in the spring and earned rave reviews from some practice observers.  He had mixed results in the spring game, earning a 123.3 passer rating (compared to Denard Robinson’s 61.0) but throwing two interceptions, including one that was returned by Jake Ryan for a touchdown.  I have always thought that Gardner was more suited to a more pro-style offense than Robinson, but with offensive coordinator Al Borges promising to tailor the attack to the team’s strengths, we’re still probably going to see a lot of spread formations as long as Robinson remains the quarterback.  But if and when Shoelace gets hurt, Gardner isn’t the same caliber of runner, and I think he’ll lead a more traditional offensive package.

Prediction: Backup quarterback


  1. Comments: 21385
    Painter Smurf
    Aug 06, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    It sounds like Gardner played early last year because RR was ticked at Forcier (I'm sure rightfully so). But Tate seemed to get his act together somewhat so RR didn't need Gardner after all. Weird situation. It would be nice to see Gardner get a fifth year, but part of me thinks UM should not be playing these bogus medical redshirt games. Even though it may be somewhat common and ticky-tack, BS'ing the NCAA about this kind of stuff sets a bad example for the program.

    Gardner has talent, but I think a lot of vocal fans are over-hyping him on message boards. He has some nice tools and was a highly regarded recruit. Much of the hype has to do with Gardner having more prototypical measurables and being more comfortable than Denard in the pocket (which isn't saying much). But I do not see him as being close to beating out Denard. And he has a lot of work to do and will have his hands full in 2013 to beat out Bellamy and Morris, who will come in as prepared as any freshman UM QB in history in 2013.

  2. Comments: 21385
    Aug 06, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Given what we now know about forcier's classroom and other issues do you still think playing Gardner was unwise? Especially from a team discipline point of view and the message that it sends about going to class. He probably should have been canned and Gardner the backup for the whole season. The way it was handled seems like the worst of both worlds. Although he may have been trying to give forcier another chance. However, forcier really forced himself out the door given his grades.

  3. Comments: 21385
    Aug 06, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Yeah, I concur – f*@& RichRod for burning Gardner's redshirt just to teach Tate a lesson.

    One of many asinine moves that man made during his time at Michigan.

  4. Comments: 21385
    Aug 06, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Anon @ 12:18 PM,

    RR has meant more to Michigan than you or I ever will and is a class act. Now get back to being an unproductive member of society.

  5. Comments: 21385
    Aug 06, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Playing Gardner last year was dumb. Especially when you look at our QB recruiting for 2011 and 2012. If Shane Morris blows out his knee or fails to qualify academically, this program is royally screwed unless Russell Bellomy is hugely underrated.

  6. Comments: 21385
    Aug 06, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    Anon @2:27pm

    I know what you mean…if Cox, Hopkins, Shaw, Smith, Toussaint, Rawls, Hayes, McColgan, and Jones all tear their ACLs, we're royally screwed as well.

    Useless speculation is useless. Our QB depth is adequate.

  7. Comments: 21385
    Aug 07, 2011 at 12:54 AM

    @ Anonymous 12:06 p.m.

    Yes, I do still think it was a bad idea. You don't sacrifice a program's season or another player's career just to send a message to one bratty kid. To me it says he cared more about teaching Forcier a lesson than about lengthening/improving/furthering Gardner's aspirations.

  8. Comments: 21385
    Marc Shepherd
    Aug 07, 2011 at 1:26 AM

    I agree with Thunder entirely. Tate Forcier was eligible in every game except the bowl game. Rodriguez played Gardner merely to “send a message” to Forcier, a message that (in the end) was ineffective anyway.

    Gardner got something like one snap vs. UConn, one snap vs. Notre Dame, and meaningless garbage time vs. Bowling Green that might as well have been taken by Jack Kennedy. For that, he lost an entire year of eligibility, unless the mysterious back injury he suffered proves to be sufficient for a medical hardship waiver.

    Of course, no one now can predict what the next three or four years will hold for Gardner, but it’s precisely because it’s unpredictable that redshirt years are valuable. Even if Gardner gets his redshirt back, it does not vindicate Rodriguez’s decision, because Rodriguez could not know that Gardner would injure his back. No useful player should burn his redshirt in such meaningless action, when there are better options available. You either use the kid a lot, or you don’t use him at all.

    None of this is personal against Rodriguez, by the way. I am sure he was a very nice man, dedicated to Michigan football, etc. But nice people do dumb things sometimes. That is why he is no longer the coach.

  9. Comments: 21385
    Aug 07, 2011 at 2:06 AM

    @anonymus you're a dick

  10. Comments: 21385
    Aug 07, 2011 at 5:13 AM

    "…if Cox, Hopkins, Shaw, Smith, Toussaint, Rawls, Hayes, McColgan, and Jones all tear their ACLs, we're royally screwed as well"

    Uh what? A bunch of players at one position will not all blow out their knees. But one might. If you bank the future of the program on him, you're royally fucked. It's not useless speculation to say that that could happen. This is exactly why you don't burn a star recruit's redshirt at a position like QB for some worthless handoffs and some mopup duty. Gardner might not get a fifth year senior year and he might only get one year as starter because of RichRod's stupidity. It's one of many ways in RichRod screwed over this program. This will become obvious to you if Gardner is forced to leave after 2013 and Shane Morris is not ready to take over for some reason or another.

  11. Comments: 21385
    Aug 07, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    "RR has meant more to Michigan than you or I ever will…"

    Are you JOKING?!

    He's one of the most universally despised individuals in the history of U of M's football program. He sure has a left a legacy here… one of LOSING.

    And I don't think Desmond Howard and the other important alums would disagree with me.

  12. Comments: 21385
    Aug 07, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    I was told about the reason why Tate Forcier didn't endear to the coaching staff is in addition to not doing well in classes and working hard, he got caught smoking weed with a fellow freshman, Austin White. This is part of teh reason why Austin White transferred out of Michigan and Forcier was in the coaches doghouse.

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