Michigan junior Devin Gardner is of course the backup to Wolverine senior quarterback Denard Robinson. While Gardner is waiting for his opportunity to lead Maize & Blue offense someday, in the meantime he has stayed focused on any opportunity that come his way.
"I feel like I am more prepared then I have ever been," Gardner told GoBlueWolverine.com. "In the years that I have been here, you know, I got a great grasp of the offense. And I really can't wait to get an opportunity. Even if Denard is not injured and I can go in for a few snaps, deuce package, and things like that. I just can't wait."
Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges has said they would like to switch the offensive game plan to a more pro-style approach in the near future. Especially with the graduation to Robinson after this season. Gardner said when gets his chance to lead the Michigan offense in the future, there will still be some wrinkles of the spread offense to cater to his playing style.
"Definitely, me and coach Borges discussed it already," Gardner said on running the spread in the future. "I am good at some of those things. So it is going to be a "use it don't abuse it" type thing. Every now and then give them a read option. It's hard for defenses to prepare for different type of offenses."
Meanwhile, Gardner is also trying to help out the Wolverine offense in other ways. At 6-foot-4, 203-pounds, Gardner will lineup at wide receiver this Fall. While the position change isn't permanent, Gardner said he enjoys relieving his teammates on the field when they get tired.
"I like it so much, cause I can give my teammates a break," Gardner said on playing wide receiver. "We're low on receiver depth. So when (Jeremy) Gallon or Jerald Robinson, (Drew) Dileo and those guys get tired, they don't have anybody to come in. If I'm not playing quarterback, then why not? Why not help them get a break.
"I have been really focused and ready to compete, you know, and getting in really good shape. Because playing two positions in practice, it's kind of rough. Quarterback shape is a lot different than receiver shape, I should say. So just making sure I work hard in workouts and trying to become the best leader I can."
Gardner has made another notable change this off-season. He has switched his jersey number from No. 7 to No. 12, a switch that Gardner said he wanted to make when he came in as a freshman. And when senior wide receiver Roy Roundtree switched to No. 21 to honor Desmond Howard this season, Gardner asked Brady Hoke for the permission to change the number.
"It was actually my first number when I was younger," Gardner said on the number change. "But it was something that me and coach Hoke discussed. It's kind of between me and him.
"Yeah I couldn't wait," he said about requesting the change. "Because I had talked to Roundtree about it when I first came in, but obviously he wasn't coming off of 12. He always confused me and said, ‘I might switch to seven'. But he never did. But the day he switched, I talked to coach Hoke and it was a good idea."
Last year the Wolverines finished with an 11-2 record and a BCS Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. But like many of the players and coaches alike, he said last season was ‘failure' without winning a Big Ten championship.
Gardner said. "Definitely, last season was a failure. And this will be a failure just like last season was, if we don't win a Big Ten championship."
Other Notable Quotes
On Denard Robinson's demeanor going into his senior season.
"He is as focused as I have ever seen him. He is ready. That is really all I can say. He is ready. I just can't wait to see it on the field.
"His whole approach to the game has gotten better. It is way different. It was pretty good before. It's gotten better. I just want to see it."
On defensive backs J.T. Floyd and Blake Countess
"Those are two different guys. JT Floyd is the biggest junk talker I have ever seen in my life. So no matter what happens, he talks junk. So you just got to take it with a grain of salt. And Blake is kind of quiet, but he's kind of turning into a little version of JT.
"Those guys are ready too, the way they have been practicing. Their practice skills have gotten way better. They are not allowing a lot of balls to be caught if they're around."
On senior safety Jordan Kovacs and his new nickname
"I love Kovacs. He is one of my favorite guys on the team. And I don't know if he told you about his new nickname: ‘The great white safety'. You know the great white shark is one of the most feared. So he is the great white safety. And that is what he is. He is always in the correct place. He is getting some wheels too. I seen him catch it and run a few balls down this camp. I admire Kovacs."
Giving Kovacs the nickname
"I always give him nicknames to see what happens. But I thought that fit a lot."
To watch video clips of the second part of interview, click play below.