The purpose of today’s post is to wish a very Happy Birthday to Devin Gardner. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Devin James Gardner was born on this day in Detroit, Michigan. He became a star athlete in football and basketball at Inkster High School in Inkster, Michigan. Gardner led the football team to two-consecutive state championships in 2008 and 2009. He also helped the basketball team advance to the state semifinals in his junior year.
Devin Gardner was a five-star prospect who had offers from many of America’s top football programs. He chose Michigan because he felt “comfortable.” He had all the tools to run the Spread Offense that Rich Rodriguez was running at Michigan in 2009. The future definitely looked bright for Devin Gardner in 2010.
Gardner enrolled early at Michigan in January 2010. He only played in two games and burned his redshirt. When Rich Rodriguez was fired in January 2011, Gardner wasn’t sure what was going on in his football future. Brady Hoke made it clear that Denard Robinson was his starting quarterback in 2011. However, he also knew that Devin Gardner was a special athlete who needed to get on the field. Hoke’s “plan” was to rep Gardner at Quarterback and Wide Receiver.
Well, as it turned out, Brady Hoke’s “plan” didn’t work out as he hoped. Yes, 2011 was a great year, but the last three years got progressively worse. Of course, Brady was fired at the end of the 2014 season because his program was heading in the wrong direction.
Devin Gardner’s career looked a lot like Brady Hokes four years at Michigan. There were some very BIG “ups” and some really BIG “downs.” Here’s a quick review:
- Devin Gardner did not start any games in 2011, but he did play in nine contests. He completed 11 of 23 passes for 176 yards and 1 touchdown.
- Gardner started a total of five games at wide receiver in 2012 and caught 16 passes for 266 yards and 4 touchdowns.
- Devin also started four games at quarterback in 2012. He completed 75 of 126 passes for 1,219 yards. He threw 11touchdown passes and had 5 interceptions.
- Gardner started twelve games in 2013 and led the Wolverines to a final record of 7 wins and 6 losses. He had two of the best games ever by a Michigan quarterback (Indiana and Ohio State) and some of the worst (Michigan State, Nebraska and Iowa). Overall, Devin completed 208 of 345 passes in 2013. He had 21 touchdowns, but also threw 11 interceptions. He threw for a total of 2,960 yards in 2013.
- Devin started eleven of twelve games in 2014. His new position coach, Doug Nussmeier was supposed to be a ‘guru” who would take Devin to the next level of quarterback play. Unfortunately, Nussmeier was not the answer for Michigan’s offense or for Devin Gardner. Devin’s productivity was down by 1,100 yards in 2014. He completed 174 of 283 passes. He also had more interceptions (15) than touchdown passes (10) which pretty much tells you how things went in 2014.
Yes, the proverbial “roof” fell in on Gardner, Coach Hoke and the entire Michigan Football team. Lots of things went wrong at the wrong time which resulted in a dismal season of 5 wins and 7 losses. The Wolverines ended the conference season at 3-5 for the second straight season. Not a good year.
When you look back at Devin Gardner’s Michigan Career, you can’t help but notice that he played some incredible games for the Wolverines. You will also notice that he played some that were not very good. Of course, he was only one man. Although he was a mobile quarterback, he seemed to be “running for his life” a lot, especially during 2014. He was criticized for his “inconsistency” and his decision making. Yes, that may be true, but I think that he always played with courage and commitment. It’s always easier to be the critic than it is to be the man in the “fight.” I liked the way that Devin Gardner fought, even in the toughest times, at Michigan.
Before I close this article out, I want to let you know that Devin Gardner was part of some important Michigan football “firsts.” Here are the best ones that I found:
- Devin Gardner played in the first ever games against Akron and Kansas State in 2013.
- Gardner played in the first ever game against Rutgers in 2014.
- Devin Gardner, and his teammates, played in front of the first, and only, crowd to exceed 115K in Michigan Football history (115,109) on September 7, 2013 against Notre Dame.
- Gardner became the first, and only, Michigan Quarterback to throw for over 500 yards in a game in 2013 against Indiana. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 503 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 63-47 win over the Hoosiers.
- Devin Gardner also became the first, and only, Michigan Man to total over 580 yards of total offense in the 2013 Indiana game. He ran for 81 yards and passed for 503 yards to total 584 yards of offense. He was responsible for 5 touchdowns (2 passing and 3 rushing) in that record-setting day.
So, today is a good day to remember a true Michigan Man named Devin Gardner. He was an excellent player who brought Michigan fans to their feet many times during his Wolverine football career. Yes, he had some “ups” and some “downs” during his time at Michigan. However, he always gave his all for Michigan and played the best he could, even when he was hurt. Devin Gardner was the brunt of a lot of unfair criticism, but he remains one of my favorite Wolverines of all-time. Thank you, Devin Gardner, for your contributions to the great history that is Michigan Football. I hope you have a very happy birthday today! Go Blue!
To find out more about Devin Gardner check out the links below: