However, his demeanor changes once he steps onto the football field. It's all business for the redshirt junior quarterback, who started Michigan's last five games a season ago.
"I've gotten older but I am the same guy," Gardner said. "That was the biggest thing for me. And all my teammates and all the seniors they expressed to me that nobody wanted me to change. I'm a good guy and I like to have fun. But when I'm on the field I'm very serious and during practice I am a very serious guy."
Being a serious leader for the Wolverines is all part of Gardner's maturation as a quarterback. And when you're looked at as a leader, part of the job is to talk with your teammates and tell them when they are doing things right or wrong.
"I'm a leader that leads by example," he said. "And (I've) also chastised guys but not in way that embarrasses them or anything like that."
Now, that the team is officially Gardner's to lead, a responsibility comes with it. A responsibility he says he's "grateful" to have at this time in his career.
"It's just a big responsibility," he said. "I'm very, very grateful. I feel like I've done it right. I feel like I've waited my turn. I'm taking full advantage of my opportunities.
"…I am a hometown guy. Just like I always planned to be before I came to Michigan. It's really surreal for me to be able to do things I am doing right now. (To) be able to lead a football team – a Division-1 program. It's truly grateful for me to experience it."
Winning a Championship
Michigan will be looking to win its first Big Ten championship since 2004. And winning the Big Ten is the goal of every player as soon as they step on campus, said Gardner.
"We haven't done anything (while we) got everyone here," he said. "We haven't won a Big Ten championship. And that's the goal. And that's what we're working for this year."
Michigan opens its season with Central Michigan on Aug. 31. And while they certainly have bigger opponents on their schedule, Gardner says the goal is stay consistent throughout the season -- which will prove they're a good team in the long run.
"We have to get ready for that first game," he said. "The next biggest challenge will be the next game. We can't look past teams and look past opportunities to get better and prove to the world that we're a good team."