Hello (Again): Devin Gardner

Submitted by Brian on April 3rd, 2009 at 3:47 PM

If this post seems familiar, it's because Devin Gardner already sort of committed. He told his coach, and his coach told the world. But there's an official announcement today, so no better time than the present for a full-on googlestalk.



Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #7 QB, #77 overall 4*, #177 overall 150 watch list

Devin Gardner is a prototypical spread 'n' shred QB: 6'4", 200 pounds, and quick like a jackrabbit. He is also, unfortunately, a little raw. Check ESPN's evaluation of him, which starts off with this backhanded compliment:

Gardner is a prospect that after viewing for some time you respect his overall production level once you get past the fact that his methods more often than not are going to be very unorthodox and at times not pretty.

IE: "I guess we have to rank him because he accounted for 48 touchdowns and has sweet offers." The rest of it is what you might expect:

He can cut, shows burst changing directions and could develop into a dangerous read-option operator. Gardner shows very good arm strength and when his feet are set he can drive the ball down field and shows very good RPM's on short and intermediate routes… However, for all his athleticism and arm strength, Gardner's mechanics need a lot of work. Fortunately he is blessed with height because he has a very low release point and is a side-arm passer that cradles the ball and tends to push it in his delivery. … Overall, you have to be impressed with Gardner's measurables and athleticism. He can make plays and possesses a lot of raw tools.

Okay, by "a little raw" we mean raw like sushi. Premium, premium sushi.  Reinforcing that is this fluffy bit from Gardner's Elite 11 camp experience, where he was a ball boy:

After watching him during the week, Gardner will have to learn to be tall in the pocket and take advantage of his height. He says his biggest weakness is his accuracy, which is a direct result of arm placement and how the ball is released. He has a real bad habit of dropping his release point when throwing, as well as sinking his hips and knees when throwing. This happens more when throwing shorter routes, as he tries to guide the ball.

This fall, expect Gardner to be more comfortable under center as a result of his week in Southern California. Not only did he take full advantage of every rep on the field but he also improved greatly on the chalk board. When asked if he left the camp a better player, Gardner's response was "absolutely and hands down, my ability to read and recognize coverages are much better now."

Gardner on himself:

"I think I can fit into any offense, really," Gardner told SN Today. "I work with my coach every day to be a better passer. ... Going into (last) season, everybody was talking about how I'm a good athlete, but now everybody's saying I'm a real quarterback, too. I've evened out my passing and my rushing."

Gardner's got a year to work on that stuff before he hits campus.


Gardner had early offers from Notre Dame, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, LSU, and Michigan State.

And then there's the Ohio State issue. OSU was considered the early favorite for Gardner, as Gardner grew up a fan. That was eventually revealed to be overblown, but Ohio State was extremely interested and there were rumors Gardner would commit on an spring unofficial. The issue: no offer.

The Buckeye-insider supported theory is that Ohio State's inability to bring in Tajh Boyd—they were forced to snatch a fourth-choice guy away after getting shot down by Miami of Ohio (not that Miami of Ohio) and Temple(!) commits just to get anyone on campus—put OSU in a tough spot. Believing Gardner to be a project and Pryor to be an early flight risk, they couldn't chance the future of the QB spot on he and Baylor Refugee. So they've focused on polished folk like Nick Montana, much to the surprise (and possible dismay?) of OSU bloggers. This is more evidence of premium sushi.


An impressive mix of run and pass:

Gardner rushed for 1,401 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior in 2008, while throwing for 1,886 yards and 26 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions.

Perhaps even more impressive is the carries that got him those yards: Gardner averaged 12 YPC.


Scout has him listed at 4.63, which is actually realistic.


You can just tell his delivery is messed up from the video. But you can also tell he's got that glide speed Young had.

(More video here.)


The word of the day is "raw." Gardner appears to be a version of Terrelle Pryor that's a couple inches shorter, slightly less of an athletic freak, and less likely to draw shame upon himself at basketball games. Check it:

"He expects us to be a good person," junior Devin Gardner said of his coach. "It's those little things. At Inkster you have to be a good person."

Gardner may have even more work to do on his mechanics. The good news is that he's got another year of high school to develop, and he'll probably camp at Michigan so they can work on him hard, and, god willing, Forcier will pan out and he won't be thrust into the starting job on day one. In a perfect world, Gardner redshirts and is the heavy favorite to win the job after four years of Forcier.


It's nice to get the top QB target onboard early. (Yes, insert decommit crack here.) a-kid-called-dangerMichigan remains in dire need of quarterbacks and will pursue and acquire a second, with GA QB Blake Sims the target with the most imminent decision on tap.


There's a lot of dreck in the googlestalking, but sometimes there's gold, too. Someone named Devin Gardner co-starred in the straight-to-DVD disaster of a kiddie movie you see at right: A KID CALLED DANGER. The man in the binoculars to the left has a sweet buckstache and is clearly cursing whatever gods allowed this child named DANGER to interfere with his nefarious plans.

Obviously, Devin Gardner is this kid called danger.

Etc.: Trieu interview.



April 3rd, 2009 at 3:55 PM ^

right now as being not at all worried about the supposed sushi factor. i'm pretty sure i've seen as much tape as ESPN at this point.


April 3rd, 2009 at 4:14 PM ^

with the exception that TP was a senior, 5 star recruit, and consensus #1 overall recruit, while DG was just a junior last year. TP had a better Fake 40 time, but 4.6 is still smoking fast. Also, why do they always discredit a mobile QB because he doesn't have perfect mechanics?? I never hear them trying to teach a 6'5'' immobile pocket passer like Mallet or Henne to get some quicks and some slashing tailback moves?

DG will be good in this offense, he's a player.


April 3rd, 2009 at 6:08 PM ^

I think generally guys that get under the microscope for mechanics really need help on the mechanics. If a bunch of guys like us, most of whom aren't coaches and scouts, can see that this kid has real shaky throwing motion (see the aiming early in the video e.g.?) then I think it's legit. That's not to say I'm down on Devin, not at all, that's why they invented the redshirt (though we may not have that luxury)


April 3rd, 2009 at 4:33 PM ^

The kid looks really good. good accuracy and most of his throws were tight spirals. I saw a few that were wobbly but for the most part everything about this kid has me excited. Hopefully he can develop this year and again next year as a red shirt frosh and then when Tate and D Rob gradguate he can step in and fill that void nicely.


April 3rd, 2009 at 4:39 PM ^

I'm a bit concerned about the mechanics, but mostly because I've seen full game tape of Gardner and seen his mechanics drastically shift throughout a full game. He's definitely a gamer, but he's streaky and does need a lot of work. Luckily, Forcier is in front of him, and I can see Forcier making more of an immediate impact due to his consistency.

For all the issues with his mechanics and accuracy, he still manages to have nice touch on all his throws, though.


April 3rd, 2009 at 5:06 PM ^

Wow, I think it's quite a stretch to expect him to RS his first year and then back-up Forcier, Robinson, et al for the next 2.

But this is not a bad problem to have. For a bad problem to have see 2008.


April 3rd, 2009 at 8:56 PM ^

I watched him in the state championship game. At times, he made some really nice throws, but occasionally overthrew his target or just missed. But his mechanics are really rough, and he needs to learn to not just use his athleticism to make the play. But he's got so much upside.. Great player possibly.


April 3rd, 2009 at 9:23 PM ^

Its weird trying to evaluate dual threat qb's after watching pocket passers for so many years.

He doesn't really throw with his body, doesn't turn his hips or even his shoulders sometimes. I guess that's helpful when he's on the run but he doesn't really flick the ball, it's more of a push.

Still seems like he gets some zip on the ball. But the point about mechanics is that it messes with your consistency. so he might be dead on the money on one throw but then wildly off target on the next. Kind of like a knuckleballer in baseball. You can even see some of his short passes kind of drop at the end because they're not getting good rotation.

He's got a nice long stride, and seems to be big and muscular. Might not be a homerun hitter on long runs but seems like he can break away from LB to get into that 20 yard range.

Seems kind of tentative on contact for being such a big guy. Not real shifty in tight quarters, but that could just be my bias from seeing so many videos of electron sized RB's. He seems to be a big target for big hits.

Looks like he could be real good in about three years.


April 4th, 2009 at 10:03 AM ^

He might have lousy throwing mechanics, but regardless he was still putting the ball on the money with a lot of those throws, whether he was still in the pocket or on the run. Yeah, I know that it's a highly edited video, but we saw much, much worse at the Big House last year.

The thing that impressed me was how many times he was under pressure and running around, yet was still looking downfield for an open guy. He didn't seem to be looking to run the instant things started breaking down.

But having the "glide speed" of Vince Young? Huh? He might be a talented runner, but watching the HS-level Devin Gardner and being reminded of the college-level VY takes a very active and optimistic imagination.


April 5th, 2009 at 5:26 PM ^

I believe it is Lil Wayne - A Milli. Not that I knew that, but I typed in some of the lyrics into Google and prayed for the best.

And I know this might make me sound like an old man, but why do people put the most obnoxious music possible as a soundtrack to these highlight videos. I mean, I want to focus on the kid's mechanics and his vision, but I'm distracted by what I first believe is my sound card dying, followed by confusion as to why the author decided to include the lyric "I'm a venereal disease like a menstrual bleed." I'm sure it's all big with the kids, but it just seems juvenile to me when trying to put together a highlight video for a kid.