Devin Gardner is seen by many in Ann Arbor as the perfect bridge between the spread offense of the Rich Rodriguez era and the pro-style offense current coach Brady Hoke wants to run at Michigan.
On Tuesday, Gardner and the rest of Wolverine Nation found out that their mobile, strong-armed quarterback will remain on campus for an extra season. The Big Ten, which examines such requests on a case-by-case basis, granted Gardner a fifth year of eligibility. He was granted a medical redshirt, effective proactively, after missing the final eight games of his freshman year with an injury.
“I feel great about it,” Gardner said on the school’s website. “I’m happy to be able to help the team as long as I can.”
If anyone is happy, it is Hoke. Gardner actually opened the 2012 season at wide receiver, catching 16 passes for 266 yards — that is how athletic this player is. When starter and record-setting dual-threat star Denard Robinson went down with a nerve injury in his elbow against Nebraska, Gardner stepped in and controlled the team the rest of the way. His first game as the team’s starter came in a big win against Minnesota, and even when Robinson returned from from his injury, Gardner retained the starter’s role.
On the year, Gardner completed 75-of-126 passes last season for 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also ran for another seven touchdowns, showing off the type of talent that can run when needed but can make the pinpoint throws that are necessary to win Big Ten and national championships.
Now, Gardner will have two more years instead of one to try to lead his program to the level of college football immortality Michigan fans are dying to get back to.
Apparently, the reason it took so long for the school to even apply for a medial redshirt was because the Michigan athletic department did not even know that it could. They thought they would have to wait until Gardner’s official career was over before applying. If that sounds silly, well, it is.
The school managed to get the application papers in with less than two weeks until Spring practice starts on campus on March 16.
But the decision gave him two more years in Ann Arbor, and that may be even better news than the opening of Spring.