Quarterback Devin Gardner maintains commitment to Michigan football program
Devin Gardner still has two months before he makes his decision official, but the Michigan football team's top prep prospect insists he’ll be a Wolverine next year.
“I’m going to Michigan,” Gardner reaffirmed Friday. “A lot of schools (are still recruiting me), but I’m going to Michigan.”
Gardner closed his distinguished prep career with a 27-6 loss to Lowell in the Division 2 state championship game at Ford Field.
It wasn’t his best performance - he completed just 9 of 17 passes for 134 yards, threw a bad interception in the first half and finished with minus-26 yards rushing on 7 carries (including 3 sacks) - but playing through hamstring and shoulder injures Gardner showed in flashes why Rivals.com rates him the country’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect.
On Inkster’s only touchdown drive, Gardner dropped a perfect 33-yard pass to receiver Deon Butler just over the outstretched arms of a Lowell defensive back. Later, he shook off three would-be tacklers to avoid a sack and keep alive a drive that eventually stalled near midfield.
“I can’t mourn,” Gardner said. “It starts on Monday. I start Monday lifting, throwing, everything. Watching film, just getting better as a quarterback so this will never happen again.”
Gardner won’t enroll early as he once hoped, but he’s still expected to challenge starting quarterback Tate Forcier for playing time next year.
At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Gardner’s a better athlete than Forcier and more built to withstand the rigors of the Big Ten, though Forcier is more complete as a passer and, obviously, much further along in Michigan's offense.
Forcier threw for 2,050 yards and led the Wolverines in rushing attempts as a true freshman. He also struggled with turnovers at times, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble in Michigan's season-ending loss to Ohio State.
Inkster offensive coordinator Mac Arthur Jones said Gardner’s athleticism is a fit for Michigan’s spread offense.
“God has given him everything he needs,” Jones said. “He’s so gifted, so talented.”
Gardner, who’ll play in the Under Armour All-American Game on Jan. 2, said his faith in Michigan wasn’t shaken by the Wolverines’ 5-7 season. As of now, the only official visit he plans to take is to Ann Arbor.
"They didn't get it done, just like we didn't today," he said.
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.