Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner threw three touchdown passes in the first 30 minutes of the season. Since then, 630 minutes of game clock has seen him only throw five more. It’s difficult to comprehend that statistic. 10 games, five touchdowns. But please don’t think for a second that a few numbers will define Gardner.
Never will I ever question the heart and the attitude of Devin Gardner. I’ve described him as a warrior on many occasions, and I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t fully believe it. The word “adversity” gets thrown around so often in sports that it has really lost its punch, but I think we can safely say this young man has battled through it time and time again.
Two coaches, three offensive coordinators, two positions—Gardner has been through it all and almost did it all along the way. He has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He has climbed mountains at times, dragging his team with him, but he also stooped into the valleys, once again dragging his team behind him.
Perhaps only a single game—60 minutes—remains on the schedule for Gardner—one more chance to climb a mountain. After all, it wouldn’t be his first time doing that against Ohio State.
My only wish for No. 98 is that he enjoys what could be the final game of football he ever plays in a Michigan uniform. The Gardner of old—healthier, more confident, not under constant scrutiny—seemed to enjoy the game much more than he does now. At least that’s the story told by his body language on Saturdays.
Battered, broken and bruised, he remains tested, though unbeaten. People can throw stats at him until their arms hurt, and they can pin the blame for every loss solely to his name, but the man he is heavily outweighs anything he ever did or ever will do on the football field. That’s just a fact.
I would be ecstatic to see Gardner play a second game of his life against the Buckeyes next weekend, but no matter what happens, it’s important to take a few steps back, broaden your vision and try to capture the magnitude of everything Devin Gardner has done and everything he stands for. Then, and only then, will you see more than simply a quarterback in pads and a winged helmet.
You will see Devin Gardner.