He had a very good camp, running a 4.54 forty, with a vertical jump of 39”. And, he showed good quickness and athleticism in the defensive drills.
Missouri assistant coach Cornell Ford has been recruiting Gardner all along, and following the Missouri camp, Coach Ford had told Gardner that a Missouri offer might be on the way.
At that time, Gardner expressed considerable interest in Mizzou.
“I like the environment at Missouri,” Gardner had said following his camp performance. “The team likes to win. They have a great record. And it’s a good coaching staff.”
At that time, Gardner held an offer from Bowling Green. By mid- season, Gardner had picked up offers from Georgia State, and Wake Forest, in addition to the Bowling Green offer. He’d been hearing from Kentucky, and he was still hopeful of receiving a Missouri offer. He had committed to and de-committed from Bowling Green. Coach Ford was still recruiting him, and he was still waiting for Mizzou to offer.
Gardner has posted personal bests of 315 pounds in the bench press, and 500 pounds in the squat. He is a playmaker from the LB position, and with his measurables and his play on the field, he’s the caliber of LB prospect that in recent years Missouri likely would have offered early in the cycle.
Even though Missouri had identified a couple of other LBs for their 2015 recruiting class, there was still talk of Gardner and Missouri. As recently as the final week of January, the possibility of an official visit to Missouri was being discussed between Gardner and Coach Ford.
In recent years, Missouri would have quickly offered a prospect of Gardner’s caliber. But in this recruiting cycle, the Tigers have identified and received commitments from a pair of extremely high-caliber LB prospects.
By the end of January, Gardner had picked up more offers, including Central Michigan, Middle Tennessee State, Utah State, and Western Michigan. He was receiving increased interest from Indiana and Kentucky, and had received interest from Michigan State, Ohio State, and Tennessee, among others. He had taken an official visit to Indiana. But he was still waiting on the one offer he wanted, the one from Missouri.
“Coach Ford has been real straight with me, and he has kept me informed,” explained Gardner, who a week ago was essentially on standby with Missouri, waiting for a LB spot to become available.
Now, the day before Signing Day, Gardner informs ShowMeMizzou.com that he has accepted a preferred walk-on position with Missouri.
“I talked to Coach Ford,” explained Gardner. “I told him that this is something I want to do. He congratulated me and he told me that he’s happy that I’m going to be a Missouri Tiger. He sounded really excited! I’m really excited, as well.”
Gardner said that it’s just starting to sink in, “It’s a really great feeling to be a Missouri Tiger! I’m looking forward to getting started at Mizzou.”