CHICAGO -- After a spring and summer of speculation over where and how much junior Devin Gardner will play for Michigan this season, second-year Wolverines coach Brady Hoke finally provided some answers Friday.
Gardner, Michigan’s backup quarterback, will also see time at wide receiver during preseason camp and potentially during games for the Wolverines this fall. This is being done as a way to get the 6-foot-4, 206-pound Inkster, Mich., native on the field.
He has long been one of the best athletes on Michigan’s roster, but played a position where only one man can play and Gardner was not going to unseat senior incumbent quarterback Denard Robinson.
“Devin reminds me of me,” Robinson said. “Whatever it takes to get on the field, whatever it takes to win. That’s what he is going to do and I think I’m doing the same thing. Last year, when you see me playing a little running back or going out to wideout when he was at quarterback, those are things that if Devin had to do, he’ll do it.”
Michigan experimented with a two-quarterback package during portions of last season, calling the package where Gardner lined up at quarterback and Robinson lined up at another position the “deuce” package.
However, as the season progressed, Michigan went to the package less frequently and became somewhat predictable in Gardner lining up at quarterback and Robinson being somewhere else.
This option could give Michigan much more versatility in playcalling for offensive coordinator Al Borges.
“He’s a very intelligent kid,” Hoke said. “I think that’s a big part of it. There’s a maturity that he’s gone through that they all do. Him looking at how he can help his team and be a teammate is important.
“That gives you a little more you can do and I think one of the positive things is Russell Bellomy, we think, is capable of doing some things. It allows you to work Devin a little bit more at some different things, different positions where he can help the football team.”
Hoke doesn’t know how much Gardner will play wide receiver since he hasn’t seen him perform in months, but said the junior has worked out at the position during summer workouts led by the team.
He said he hasn’t inquired with others about how to balance the situation, as many other coaches at one point or another have had similar situations with a player as the backup quarterback and a receiver, including Northwestern last season with Dan Persa and Kain Colter.
But Hoke thought Gardner handled the dual role well in the spring.
“We’ve got a chance to get Devin on the field as a wide receiver some because of his athleticism and because he’s a big guy,” Hoke said. “We’ve got all kinds of different things that we look towards with Devin.”