Al Borges says Devin Gardner's situation is different than Charles Woodson's two-position run in '97
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
In fact, he got an up-close and personal look at the Michigan football program's most famous modern two-spot star in 1997.
"When I was (an assistant) at UCLA, we came here when they had Charles Woodson," the second-year Michigan offensive coordinator recalled. "We came in the spring, and we were curious because we had a kid we were curious about doing similar stuff with."
This season, Borges has a multiple-position player of his own to worry about. That, of course, being junior Devin Gardner.
Gardner, who Borges said is still Michigan's No. 2 quarterback, has continued to split his reps under center and at wide receiver through the early stages of fall camp.
However, if anyone plans on comparing Woodson's 1997 splash at cornerback and wideout to Gardner's pass-catching experiment, Borges suggests they stop right now.
"That was different," he said. "Charles was playing a defensive and an offensive position, it was a completely different deal. Devin is in the same system, he's hearing the same words all the time."
Woodson had just 12 receptions in 1997, but made the absolute most out of them -- picking up 238 yards (and two touchdowns) for an average of 19.8 yards per grab. He was also used as a decoy from time to time, which proved effective as well.
As for Gardner? Borges says he's not sure how much he'll realistically be able to use him at wide receiver this season, and says the decision will likely be a week-to-week process that will depend on the game plan.
He does, however, want to know whether or not Gardner can be relied on as a wide receiver by the end of fall camp.
"Once you get (him) into the game, it had better work out -- at least in part -- how you wanted it to," Borges said. "But at one point in time, we have to have an idea how many reps everybody is going to play, not just him, everybody. Where, when and in what situations."
Currently, Borges says Gardner's experiment at wide receiver is just that -- an experiment. He said the entire process is still in its "embryonic" stages, and wouldn't commit one way or the other when asked if Gardner would end the season with one position (wide receiver or quarterback) or two.
"We're exploring every option at this point," he said.
Borges admitted that the continued development of Russell Bellomy, the team's current No. 3 quarterback, helped in the decision to tinker with Gardner at receiver.
But at the end of the day, the 6-foot-4, 203-pounder's pure athletic ability played a much bigger role.
"Some quarterbacks are quarterbacks, and that's all they are," Borges said. "(Devin) is a guy who can run, he's got good hands.
"(And) it'd be bad coaching, probably, if he was standing next to me the whole game."