"I've got my list of schools down to Notre Dame, Tennessee, Michigan St., Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, UCLA and Michigan," Gardner said.
As of Sept. 1st, when schools could start contacting players again, Gardner said he's been inundated with attention. "I'm really hearing from a lot from schools on the east coast, as well as Oklahoma, UCLA, Michigan, and Michigan State. A lot of them are doing the same thing with sending letters and now they're calling and asking about taking an official visit. I've gotten a lot of calls since September 1st. I just got off the phone with Virginia Tech. Coach (Chris) Beatty (Salem head coach) is helping me out a lot with keeping track of the schools and offers."
When asked if he had a lot of interest in UCLA and if he might be taking a visit to Westwood, Gardner said, "Oh yeah. I like UCLA. I'm getting plenty of interest from UCLA. They called on the first day, and they want me to come out there for an official visit. I've been thinking about a trip out there for a while, but I just haven't decided which schools will get the official visits."
During the summer Gardner just reinforced his position with college coaches when he performed impressively at the Nike camp held at the University of Maryland. Gardner ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, did 16 repetitions on the bench press (185 lbs) and had a 34.4 vertical jump.
Asked about a favorite school or childhood favorite, Gardner said, "Michigan, since I used to spend a lot of time in Detroit and my dad went to Michigan."
As a junior, Gardner ran for 1,110 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He also catches the ball well. He had 23 receptions for 318 yards and two touchdowns. Gardner also runs track. He's ran a 10.5 100 meters and a 22.1 200 meters. Despite those numbers, Gardner is devoted to football. "I run track just to stay in shape for football. I'm not really that serious about it," he said.
Gardner says he will likely wait until well after his senior season to make a choice as he intends to take all five official trips before making a decision. Gardner is fully qualified.
UCLA is also recruiting Gardner's teammate, wide receiver Shannon Lane.