Michigan QB Devin Gardner gets fifth year

Michigan just added a top player for the 2014 football season.

Not a high-school recruit — National Signing Day for that class is a year away.

The “new” player is starting quarterback Devin Gardner, who found out Tuesday that his application for a medical redshirt for his freshman season has been granted. That means Gardner goes into this fall as a redshirt junior, not as a senior.

Gardner took over the starting job in the middle of last season after Denard Robinson injured his elbow in his throwing arm, winning his first three games before losing to Ohio State and South Carolina in the Outback bowl.

Gardner passed for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last fall while adding 16 catches for 255 yards and four scores as a receiver.

“I feel great about it,” said Gardner in a video released by the Michigan athletic department. “I’m happy that I’ll be able to help this team as long as I can. I can’t think about 2014 right now, though. We’ve got the 2013 season to play before that.”

With Robinson gone, Gardner was already taking on more of a leadership role during offseason workouts.

“I’m usually pretty quiet, but I’m having to change that,” he said. “I’ve had to be more vocal when we’ve been lifting — I’m now one of the older guys who has to explain to the kids what it means to be a Michigan man.”

Gardner started his freshman year competing with Robinson for the starting quarterback job, but Robinson earned the spot while Gardner missed much of the season with a back problem. After a lengthy appeal process, Gardner now gets retroactive credit for that season.

That’s great news for the Wolverines, who now hope to have two years to groom top recruit Shane Morris to be the quarterback of the future. Gardner, though, joked that he wasn’t sure how offensive coordinator Al Borges was going to take the news.

“I’m sure Coach Borges is probably going to be pretty disappointed that he’ll have to deal with me for an extra year,” Gardner said with a grin. “I guess I’ll have to give him a call.”