The Wolverine

May 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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The Wolverines Feature Take-Charge Performers On Offense And Defense S By John Borton eniors lead, period. That's how it is on this Brady Hoke team, and for any crew he coaches. They've seen the most, know the most and have the biggest say in everything. When Hoke first arrived at Michigan in the winter of 2011, he gathered the seniors together. He told them he counted on them to take control, to get everyone working together into the sort of unit that would explode into success on the football field. That hasn't changed. At the same time, the quarterback position demands leadership on every play. That's why it's good for the Wolverines that redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner — who would be a senior but for a favorable ruling on an injury that happened his first season at Michigan — has taken charge. He's done so in ways both obvious and subtle. A character and generally acknowledged funny guy, the 6-4 veteran sounds dead serious about what the Wolverines intend to achieve on the field this season. The hours and hours of practice video he's pored over represent no laughing matter, either. Gardner knows he needs to know what everybody's doing on every play, and he's thrown himself into that task. In short, Hoke firmly stated, Gardner has fully realized what it means to be a Michigan quarterback, and all that it entails. "I am proud that he has figured out being the Michigan quarterback is something special," Hoke said. "His work ethic, intelligence and those things are good. He is a football junkie. He has done a nice job of wrapping his arms around his responsibility." Whether stated or not, Denard Robinson's absence from Michigan's practices makes a difference in that area. Gardner stepped in admirably for Robinson down the stretch last season, but everyone knew that if and when the record-shattering runner returned, it was still his team. That's not the case anymore. Gardner stands as a clear-cut No. 1, and it shows in a number of ways. "He's got the throne by himself," fifth-year senior safety Thomas Gordon noted. "That will definitely make him feel better back there. I could see it in his play during the spring. He's a lot more comfortable back there. He's taking control of the offense, and it's very exciting." He's also taking that mantle of responsibility with a gravity that belies his fun-loving nature, senior wide receiver Drew Dileo pointed out. "He's been a little bit more serious," Dileo said. "He's a clown. He and [fifth-year senior wideout Jeremy] Gallon clown around a lot. But when it's time to be serious, he's realized that. He's taken that extra

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