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Posted on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Devin Gardner hopes his future is at quarterback, but eager to help Michigan at receiver

By Kyle Meinke


Devin Gardner remains a quarterback first, and wants it that way. But he's willing to play some receiver as well to help his team.

Melanie Maxwell |

The Michigan football team lost starting receivers Junior Hemingway and Darryl Stonum this offseason, and now Roy Roundtree, the unquestioned leader of this year's corps, is out two weeks after having knee surgery.

It has some hoping junior quarterback Devin Gardner can make the move to receiver full time, following his well-publicized audition at wideout in the spring.

He's big, he's athletic and there's a need.

Only thing: Gardner still wants to play quarterback, and still aspires to be Denard Robinson's successor.

"If you don’t think that way, there’s no way you can be the starting quarterback for any team, not just Michigan," Gardner said Sunday at the team's media day. "You have to think that way, even if in the back of your mind, 'Well, maybe I won't have a shot.' You have to be ready."


Devin Gardner, left, plans to be Denard Robinson's backup at quarterback even if he plays some receiver on the side.

Jeffrey Smith |

He sees himself as a full-time quarterback. Does he see himself as a full-time receiver?

"I’m a quarterback, so it’s probably not going to happen," he said.

Gardner also is competitive, though, and yearns to see the field no matter which position provides that opportunity. And right now, with the electric Robinson back for a third year as starter, that position isn't quarterback.

So after the conclusion of last season, Gardner sat down with coaches and surveyed the depth chart. They realized what they were losing -- a No. 1 receiver in Hemingway, and a sure-fire starter in Stonum -- and sniffed opportunity there.

He began practicing part time at receiver in spring camp, and now is splitting his snaps 50-50 between the two positions. He gets his regular diet of reps at quarterback, then runs routes when it's Robinson or third-stringer Russell Bellomy's turn.

"It was a mutual agreement," Gardner said. "There wasn’t a lot of depth (at receiver), so guys would be dog-tired in practice if we didn’t get a chance to get them a break. So I'm basically giving guys breaks."

Gardner, as well as coaches, say his primary role remains backing up Robinson at quarterback. But his size -- 6-foot-4, 203 pounds -- could make him valuable for a team that lacks length at receiver.


Devin Gardner is all smiles these days, as it becomes likely he will play a bigger role in the offense this year.

Melanie Maxwell |

"It'd be bad coaching, probably, if he was standing next to me the whole game," coordinator Al Borges said.

Roundtree, who has a team-high 123 career catches for 1,724 yards, stands just 6-foot. Junior Jeremy Gallon, the Wolverines' leading returning receiver from last year with 31 catches, is 5-8.

Gardner might not match those guys in experience, but he towers over them in stature. He could be a big target for Robinson, providing greater margin of error for a quarterback who has struggled with his accuracy.

He also could provide some much-needed depth, with Stonum and Hemingway gone and Roundtree out two weeks following arthroscopic knee surgery. That means Michigan is practicing without three of its best receivers from last year.

It won't get Roundtree back until at least the week of the opener against Alabama, and although coaches expect him to play in that game, there's no assurance he'll be at full health or conditioning.

"I'm just doing whatever it takes to help the team win," Gardner said. "If that's where the coaches feel I can help at here and there, I'll do it."

Even if it means giving up valuable reps at quarterback, his preferred position?

"I like playing football," he said. "Any position I play, I’ll be fine. If I want to play linebacker, I’ll be fine."

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

Bellomy is a smart, talented kid, so there is no guarantees for Devin next year. His height and athleticsm, combined with his 4.11 high school GPA predicted a very fast learner at reading defenses. I think they will red shirt Morris next year (it's the smart move). When I think of Gardner's' height and athleticism I think of wide receivers not QB's- unless the have great touch and ability to read the defenses. Bellomy showed more of that in the spring game.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 5:28 a.m.

So 6'4" and athletic makes you think WR and not QB? Does Andrew Luck make you think WR and not QB? If not...


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

The Blue Megatron? Could be interesting...


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

Gardner could potentially be a big difference maker for Michigan this year. Getting him into the lineup at WR so he's on the field at the same time as Denard opens up a lot of potential options. They could (as an example) lateral it to Devin and have him throw to someone like Denard, or a RB, or TE. But, just stretching the field can make a big impact itself. That would give Denard more room to run. All this assumes that Devin can catch the ball and hold onto it. Being a QB, you'd think he has pretty good hands. But until we see how he does in the actual games, it's hard to speculate. But, I love this move by Devin and the coaches.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 5:25 a.m.

Thank you, Cpt. Obvious.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

81wolverine you say exactly what everyone knows I already wrote. Its good to know you are learning from me, but try to be original.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

The end around just got a little harder to cover


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

Good attitude Devin! If he has good hands, hopefully Borges will use him full time. IMO I think he should be used at the flanker, good speed and size to stretch the field, return Roundtree to the slot where he had success, and Delio, Gallon or 1 of the frosh at WO. With the O line being the weakness, why not use a 4R set and an empty backfield set ( technically, you still have a RB in DR ) more often, to keep your talent on the field and put more stress on defenses. This year's and the past 2 year's offensive teams are the most athletic I have ever seen at M. Borges is right, it would be bad coaching having Gardner as well as the rest of his talent on the sideline, JMO!


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 5:24 a.m.

When has Michigan ever gone "4 deep with 6'2"+ physical receivers"?


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

RG, the WR are not a weakness, nor are they the strength of the team, but they do have experienced steady players there in RR, JG and DD, and add VS to the mix out of the backfield. Going with 4/5R sets just spreads the field and create bigger running/passing lanes which plays into M's strength, the running game. Takes pressure off the O line from all the blitzes.

Robert Granville

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

The WR corps is also a weakness. We lack the length to pull off 4 and 5 WR sets as well as we will in the future. Just wait til we're 4 deep with 6'2"+ physical receivers.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

As much as he wants to play QB, when he's had the time out there, he has not shined (Spelling?), so he is a great team player by being willing to change and with a great attitude. Some of Michigan's best players in the last few years (including some with great NFL success) have been position changes, so he may yet succeed very well. Good luck. Let's break Desmond's TD record.

Robert Granville

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

He hasn't had significant time out there. Quarterbacks rely on rhythm. You're off base.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

I love Denard at QB, he ripped up those Spartans the last two years! Plus he has a "Golden Arm" for the Pass attack!

Robert Granville

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

I remember getting behind Mike Hart's cockiness. I'm still all about it but I'm glad the team and the players have lost that mentality. Pride came before the fall. History repeats itself.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

Devin has been though a lot in his playing days at Michigan and yet, he has a great attitude. A 5 star recruit cannot move up on the depth chart because he's behind Denard. Now he's got Russell Bellomy and next year Shane Morris. Yet, he stays and keeps wanting to contribute to the the team. I hope he does catch that first TD pass and in Dallas of all places.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

I'm LOVING this. A selfless player doing whatever it takes to help the team win. I agree, once he makes a big play, then another big play, he is going to craving it more and more. Will he be a top flight receiver? I think that remains to be seen. But the fact that he is TALL and very athletic makes me think he could be pretty special, that is, if he can catch. UM/Bama cannot get here soon enough.....


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

In complete agreement. I'm thinking that Borges should use him 100% at WR in the red zone. His stature and athleticism will make it hard to be guarded, and as you say, once he feels that rush of emotions he may rethink what he wants to do going forward.

Kyle Meinke

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Dylnard, in my opinion ... he's the most athletic player on that offense not named Denard. He blew me away with his athleticism at the spring game. ... So, you might be right. A couple big plays, and he may be feeling differently about his future. We'll see.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Great photos. Two of this happy band of brothers.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

He wants to play QB until he catches that first TD pass, then maybe he might re-think that position. Anyway, glad to see them make use of Devon. Until last year, I like him better than Denard, but last year, Devin's passing seemed inaccurate. Maybe it is just tough coming off the bench.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

good attitude and team player.......