Continuing with the 2013 Michigan Football position preview series, this edition will focus on the quarterback position, where Devin Gardner is entrenched as the starter.
What we know
Devin Gardner was a revelation in five starts at quarterback last year. He accounted for 18 touchdowns and two Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week awards during that stretch. He completed 59.5% of his passes for 1,219 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. All that after he had spent the entire season playing wide receiver and not getting practice reps at QB. So just how good can Gardner be with a full off-season at quarterback under his belt? Well, a recent espn article tapped him as the #1 breakout player in the country this year. He has all the tools you would want in a QB, size, elusiveness, intelligence, leadership and unwavering dedication to his dream to be the quarterback at Michigan.
Gardner participated in the Manning Passing Academy this summer and drew rave reviews. Here’s what NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks had to say,
Thanks to Gardner’s tremendous production and impressive physical dimensions (6-foot-4, 210 pounds), scouts were already intrigued by his potential as a possible dual-threat playmaker at the next level. After watching him perform in workouts this weekend, I believe that fascination will grow based on his spectacular talents as a passer. Gardner displayed superior arm strength in drills, showing the kind of zip and velocity to rival big-armed NFL passers like Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. Additionally, he demonstrated outstanding accuracy and ball placement in the throwing exhibition.
Areas of concern
It’s been well-documented that Michigan will be operating with either a true freshman, Shane Morris, or walk-on, Brian Cleary, as their back-up quarterback. In an ideal world, the Wolverines would be able to redshirt Morris, but that’s a luxury the coaching staff doesn’t have. He’s the quarterback of the future and, depending on whether or not Gardner returns for his 5th season in 2014, that future could start next year.
During a weekly press conference, Brady Hoke said Shane Morris was ahead of the curve. I fully expect for him to be the back up and to take some snaps during early season mop-up duty.
Potential breakout player
Devin Gardner has vast amounts of, mostly, untapped potential. We got a sneak preview last year of his skill set and what he can do at the quarterback position. Expect a more polished version of that this year and get ready for what could be a really special season from Gardner. He’s good enough, that his name will probably become part of the Heisman discussions at some point this season.
QB: Devin Gardner
Key reserves: Shane Morris, Brian Cleary
Incoming freshmen: Shane Morris
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