Your humble blogger had the opportunity for LIVE and IN PERSON interviews with Devin Gardner, Austin White (right), and junior wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett yesterday at the Michigan High School Football Media Day. Austin showed up in his Michigan Elite Camp T-shirt. Devin was an hour late, but rockin' an EA Sports All-American T-shirt with his Michigan gym shorts.
Senior Season... and Beyond
Gardner, previously known as a run-first QB, has worked hard to improve his passing in the offseason. Previously a sidearm thrower with an erratic motion, Gardner's gone a long way towards fixing his delivery via "lots of repetitions, exaggerating having my arm up high, and continuing to throw." Gardner's newly consistent delivery saw him named the best participants at the Elite 11.
Ever humble, though, he didn't want to put himself ahead of any other guy there. When prodded, he did compare himself to Dennis Dixon, with maybe a bit of Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young. "I'm a leader on the field," he said, "and I make sure all my teammates are giving their best, too."
White, one of Gardner's future targets, says his versatility is his most valuable asset—but don't think his pass-catching ability means he'll end up at receiver once he arrives at Michigan. "I'm mainly a running back," he said, "and that's what I'm going to play. I can split out and catch some passes, but running back is what I'm going to be." The Wolverines are getting a player who can come out of the backfield to catch, and come in motion, but not just a receiver.
Since both Gardner and White are committed to the Rich Rodriguez regime, both are expecting Michigan to turn their fortunes around. Both are expecting vast improvement as early as this year. "I'm looking to improvement from last year... and we can keep building on that," White said.
Gardner was even more confident about an immediate improvement. "It's gotta get way better than least year," he said, "I expect them to do well, Tate's a good quarterback, Denard, they're all good - even Nick Sheridan." Neither can wait to get on the field in Michigan Stadium, but Gardner could hardly contain himself: "Cameron Gordon, Teric Jones, man, I can't wait to get up there."
Gardner is probably going to wait a little while longer than he has to. Though both Gardner and White have thought about the possibility of enrolling early—and are making initial preparations to do so—neither plans to do so at the moment. Both would rather focus on their final season of high school ball and the state championship.
These days most high schoolers use social networking websites, and football recruits are no exception. Both Gardner and White communicate with other recruits on Myspace, though they try to avoid being too pushy. "I just talk to them like a regular person, " said Gardner. "I don't put them on a pedestal or anything because I didn't like that." White echoed that sentiment: "I recruit a little bit, but I don't try to pressure them too much, because it's just really what's right for you."
There is one fellow future Wolverine that Gardner won't talk to right now, though. "I haven't been talking to Ricardo [Miller] that much since we play in the first game," he said, "but after the first game we can be cool again."
And though the Michigan coaching staff has come under fire from one specific, angry direction about an alleged lack of focus on instate recruiting, the recruits themselves aren't fooled. "I mean, if you can play, they're gonna recruit you," said Gardner. "If you can't play, get your game up if you want to be recruited by Michigan."
Saginaw wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett is expected to be one of the top 5 players in the state of Michigan for the class of 2011. So what makes him a special player? "I'm very fast," he said, "very elusive, I can escape the jam with ease, I've got great hands, and I can get open whenever."
Arnett already holds offers from Michigan State, Michigan, and Eastern Michigan and claims no favorites.
BONUS video interview with Gardner on the tubes… also horses:
[Editor's note: MGoBlog didn't post that. We would have asked if he had the kittens in the stable.]