Devin Gardner playing like Michigan's best receiver, but not thinking like it yet
ANN ARBOR -- Devin Gardner has made it very clear: He thinks of himself as a quarterback first.
But he's not so bad at this receiver thing either.
The junior is three games into his move to wideout, after backing up Denard Robinson at quarterback the past two years, and already leads Michigan with eight catches for 155 yards and three touchdowns.
He's the first Wolverines receiver since David Terrell in 2000 to open a season by catching a touchdown pass in three consecutive games.
Sure beats riding the pine.
"I just wanted to get on the field," Gardner said. "It didn't matter how. I mean, I can kick. I kicked in high school before. I kicked a field goal before. So if they need me to kick a field goal, extra point, I'd be happy to do it. I just want to get on the field."
No worries, Brendan Gibbons. Gardner is 6-foot-4 with good hops and hands, so he won't have to take your job to see the field.
But there's also more to being a receiver than just outrunning or outjumping a defensive back. There's a mind-set, and it appears Gardner hasn't totally assimilated to certain aspects of that. Namely, blocking.
"I don't feel like I'm ever going to be a person who loves to block," Gardner said with a laugh. "That comes with the position, but I don't think I'll ever love that."
Jeremy Gallon, considered Michigan's best blocking receiver, says Gardner's blocking troubles have little to do with physical ability. It's just a matter of learning to love it.
"Blocking isn't his deal, but you give him credit (for trying)," Gallon said. "It's just the will of the person, I guess. If I have to block a guy who is 7-feet tall and however many pounds, I'm going to do it."
Elsewhere, though, Gardner has picked up the position rapidly.
His routes are much more crisp, after he ran poor or even incorrect routes against Alabama. That growth, paired with his physical tools, will make him an increasingly difficult matchup.
Gardner's potential at the position is great, and it's helped him to embrace the move even though he harbors hope to compete for the quarterback position next year.
"It's a lot better knowing that you're going to play, and it's a lot easier to prepare as well, knowing you're going to play," Gardner said. "You gotta be ready to contribute. Last year, I didn't have any idea whether I would play or not. So I feel like (playing) makes it a lot easier.
"I know I'm a quarterback, but as I've said in previous weeks, I'm helping the team, and I'm doing well."