And while it didn’t live up the hype of his five-star status coming out Inkster (Mich.) High, Gardner certainly had his moments during his U-M career.
“It’s kind of like everybody faces this point in their lives. It’s like you do everything you’re supposed to do,” Gardner said, after Michigan’s 42-28 loss at rival Ohio State. “You work hard. And what do you do once it doesn’t work out the way you thought it would?
“An answer to that is to continue to do things you do. Work hard. Be a good guy. And these guys I’m sure they share that same sentiment. They’re going to continue to work hard and continue to do the things they need to do like the rest of the team.”
Gardner’s perseverance was showcased during Michigan’s opening drive, when his first pass was intercepted and would lead to a OSU’s first touchdown. While turnover cost the Wolverines, Gardner would recover by completing 22-of-33 passes for 233-yards and two touchdowns.
"I think he recovered from that aspect of it," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said of Gardner’s interception."But overall he hung in there. He was a warrior, and he ran the ball well. He made some nice throws. I'm real proud of how he represented himself."
Despite U-M’s 5-7 record, Gardner still put up some staggering numbers during his tenure as Michigan’s starting quarterback. He passed for 6,336 passing yards which is fourth all-time at U-M. His 7,252 yards in total offense ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list.
But in the end, some of his achievements may not be remembered, even if some of them were pretty good.
“I don’t think you can put it into words -- Especially not a few words,” Gardner said, when asked to sum up his career. “It’s been a long ride. I’m just thankful. I think god for the opportunity that I had here. I thanked my family. My brothers on this team. I have four brothers and sisters and I am around them more than my real brothers and sisters. These are my brothers. The trainers, the managers, I have been in so many relationships here. That’s probably the worst part about it. Just seeing some of those relationships and not being able to continue them.”