One of the biggest mysteries of the off-season for the Michigan football team was officially answered Tuesday afternoon when news broke that Wolverine quarterback Devin Gardner was granted a medical hardship by the NCAA giving the former five-star recruit out of Inkster (Mich.) high school a fifth season of eligibility in Ann Arbor.
"I feel great about it," Gardner told MGoBlue.com. "I'm just happy to be able to help the team as long as I can. It's a great place to live and go to school."
As a true freshman in 2010, Gardner appeared in three games as a back-up quarterback to Denard Robinson before suffering a back injury that kept him out for the rest of season.
In 2011, Gardner appeared in nine games for Michigan scoring one touchdown on the ground and one through the air while completing 11-of-23 passes for 176 yards.
In 2012, Gardner made the move to wide receiver in order to help the team and earn added playing time before making the move back under center midway through the season after an injury to Robinson in a loss at Nebraska.
"It was very different," said Gardner. "That's probably the best word to describe it because I've never played another position in my life and my first catch was a touchdown, in a football game. That was amazing for me. Then I go through the whole season playing receiver and doing decent.
"Then, my team needed me to play quarterback and I was able to play well. Thank God."
In his first career start at quarterback at Minnesota, Gardner completed 12-of-18 passes for 234 yards, rushing 10 times for 21 yards, and tallying three touchdowns, leading Michigan to a 35-13 win over the Golden Gophers.
Starting the rest of the way for the Wolverines as Robinson continued to deal with an injury to his throwing elbow, Gardner finished the 2012 season with a staggering 18 total touchdowns from the quarterback position, with over 1300 yards of total offense, and five interceptions. His six total touchdown game at home on senior day against Iowa tied Steve Smith's Michigan record for touchdowns in a game set back in 1983.
Now the unquestioned starter at quarterback with the graduation of Robinson, Gardner is ready to put this eligibility question to rest and focus on an important spring football season before the regular season kicks off at the big house on August 31st against Central Michigan.
"You approach spring like you approach every phase of getting ready for the season," he said. "You approach it to compete and win games."
Gardner will officially be listed as a redshirt junior on Michigan's roster this fall and will graduate with his bachelor's degree this May.
Devin Gardner granted medical redshirt
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