Michigan tinkering with Devin Gardner at receiver, but emphasis remains developing him as quarterback
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
But the Wolverines' offensive coordinator also conceded that, yes, there's some experimentation going on this spring.
Someone who has observed several spring practices told AnnArbor.com that Gardner has practiced regularly at receiver, running with both the first and second units. The person went as far to say Gardner has been "definitely one of their best options at receiver."
He also is taking his regular snaps at quarterback.
Borges has yet to directly confirm Gardner is practicing at wideout, but continues to maintain he would like to get the junior on the field in whatever way possible.
"He's going to be (the) No. 2 quarterback, and then see how things go," Borges said, when asked about Gardner's role. "Our approach with Devin hasn't changed too much. We got to find a way to get him on the field, because he's got skills that go over and above your average quarterback."
Gardner is a physical specimen at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, and was ranked the country's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback coming out of Inkster High School in 2010. His snaps have been limited at Michigan, however, because starter Denard Robinson has emerged as one of the nation's most explosive players.
Gardner appeared in nine games last year at quarterback. Borges devised a set of plays he came to refer to as the "deuce formation," which featured Gardner at quarterback and Robinson either at tailback or receiver.
It appears the Wolverines now are tinkering during spring camp with expanding Gardner's role. However, Borges said the focus remains on developing him as a quarterback.
"Spring, part of it is experimentation, but it's not really the emphasis," Borges said. "What we do as coaches is re-install our offense, refine our offense, because we're constantly evolving, trying to professionally enrich ourselves. Just take little bits and pieces that we learn in the offseason and apply them during spring football, and test them a little bit.
"But that's a small percentage of what we're doing. That's basically just testing schemes. We're much more interested in seeing to it these kids develop in the system, and that we can evaluate their skill levels so that when it comes time to play, we can decide who deserves to."
At quarterback, that appears to still be Robinson, then Gardner. But coaches also have praised the development of third-stringer Russell Bellomy, who seemingly has gained ground on Gardner.
"No one is far and above anybody right now that I can think of," Borges said, when asked if Gardner was the clear No. 2. "Russ Bellomy, he's got people's attention. Russ is another kid, very athletic, can throw the ball.
"He probably doesn't get mentioned near as much as he should. He's a good little player."
Borges said Bellomy needs to get more repetitions at quarterback to continue his development, but already has "taken a step in our offense."