Devin Gardner entered the 2013 season for the Michigan Wolverines with high expectations after excelling at the close of the 2012 season in place of Denard Robinson, but after an inconsistent season came to an end prematurely with a toe injury, he may not enter 2014 as the starter.
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said Gardner will still be limited by the toe injury which kept him out of the team’s 31-14 loss in the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl to the Kansas State Wildcats when spring practice starts later this month.
When pressed for if Gardner would inherit the job when fully healthy, Hoke said, “I think that’s an unknown. Again, we were 7-6. We’ve got a lot of young guys, we’ve got a lot of competition. Now does Devin have the most experience? Yes, there’s no question.”
The primary competition comes from former top recruit Shane Morris who backed up Gardner last season and started the bowl game.
With Doug Nussmeier in Ann Arbor as the team’s new offensive coordinator the missed reps by Gardner could come back to hurt him if Morris grasps the offense and Hoke goes with the upside of Morris over the mobility of Gardner.
Gardner ultimately start the season opener for Michigan but it sounds as if Hoke will have a short leash with the fifth-year senior with the talented Morris waiting in the wings.
Gardner started 12 games last season and threw for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.