"They had been sending me tons of mail, but I never really thought they would show interest in me beyond that," said Devin Gardner. "When I opened up the letter, it was an offer from coach [Les] Miles. It felt really good, because LSU is a team that I follow and really like. I am ready to get to know more about them, for sure."
An Inskter-native, a suburb of Detroit, Gardner's only exposure to the Bayou Bengals has been through television broadcasts and SportsCenter. Yet, the four-star quarterback has not let any of the opportunities pass him by.
"I watch LSU a lot, most recently in their bowl game against Georgia Tech," he said. "Jordan [Jefferson] played really well in the game, and he reminded me a lot of myself. We have pretty similar styles of play, and I see that he can really succeed in the spread down there. That really caught my eye."
Growing up in the Detroit football circuit, Gardner has grown close to Tiger offensive lineman Joseph Barksdale and former Tiger recruit and current Michigan defensive lineman William Campbell. Through those connections, Gardner has gotten a firmer grasp on what the LSU program is all about.
"One thing that I hear is that coach Miles is a really nice guy," Gardner said. "Their coaches really know how to make that offense work, and it shows because they just won a National Championship. They have some good things going, so I would say that an official visit is definitely in store next fall."
While Gardner tabs himself as a quarterback that could flourish in the spread attack, he hopes that college coaches will not see him in a restricted role as a gunslinger.
"I kind of naturally fit into the role of a spread quarterback, which I like," he said. "My coaches and I have been trying to make sure that I am not held back into just one style of offense, though. I have worked pretty hard to make myself into the best quarterback I can be, so I feel I can go into any system and have success."
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez is already heavy on the home state talent, hoping to sway him into the spread attack at the Big House. Yet, with 2009 recruit Tate Forcier the heir apparent to the Maize and Blue signal caller duties, the Inkster-standout's options are remaining open.
"I am kind of, sort of keeping an eye on Tate and how he plays," Gardner said. "I am just thinking that I can go and compete anywhere, so it won't be that big of a deal how he does. But, again, if Michigan is the place for me then I am going to go there regardless if he does great. I am just going to get out and look at all my options and weigh them out before I have to decide."
Gardner led the Vikings to the state championship game this past season, passing for 1,886 yards (98 for 170), 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushing for 1,401 yards and 22 touchdowns.