Michigan QB Gardner granted medical hardship year
Junior enters spring projected as starting quarterback
Gardner, who switched from receiver to quarterback this past season, played in three games at quarterback as a true freshman in 2010 before a back injury ended his season.
"I feel great about it," Gardner said in an interview posted on Michigan's athletic website, MGoBlue.com. "I'm just happy to be able to help the team as long as I can. It's a great place to live and go to school, so I'm happy about that.
"But that's not really the big issue. We have a season this year and spring ball is about to start. I'm really focused and ready to play this season first."
The Wolverines open spring practice on March 16.
Gardner started the 2012 season as a wide receiver but switched to quarterback for the final five games when senior Denard Robinson suffered an elbow injury.
Gardner took the job and ran with it, completing 75 of 126 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions. He also added 101 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on 47 carries to his 16 catches for 266 yards and four TDs as a wideout.
His best showing came in a 42-17 win over Iowa when he accounted for six touchdowns, passing for three and running for three. In that game, he completed 18 of 23 passes for a career-best 314 yards and was named Big Ten offensive player of the week.
Gardner came to Michigan as a quarterback but switched to receiver with Robinson entrenched at quarterback until the injury. The junior enters spring football as the projected No. 1 quarterback.
"We've had a great winter," Gardner said. "I've led and done things I'm not ordinarily accustomed to doing. I feel like I'm stepping outside myself and being the leader I should be."
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