Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner got limited playing time during the first one-third of last season, serving as the backup to Denard Robinson. In the UConn and Notre Dame games, for example, Gardner had to come in for a play or two after Robinson went out with a minor injury. Then, in the Bowling Green game, Gardner received more playing time when Robinson had to leave for most of the game. Eventually Tate Forcier replaced Gardner and took over the backup job.
Once Forcier was back on the second slot of the depth chart at quarterback, Gardner was not used again the rest of the season. That was part of the plan, though. Rich Rodriguez said that Gardner had a back injury, and the hope was to get him a medical redshirt, extending his eligibility by a season. Michigan applied to get Gardner a medical redshirt earlier in the offseason, but new head coach Brady Hoke says that a decision isn't expected until a few years from now.
"That’s so far out there," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Tuesday.
No decision on a fifth year will be made by the NCAA until Gardner completes his fourth year of eligibility. In the interim, Michigan will document his ongoing case with the Big Ten.
Unless Michigan gets an indication of what decision might be made, this could put them in a tough spot a few years from now. Denard Robinson is set to be the starter for two more years, and then Gardner would be expected to take over the starting job at quarterback in 2013. That would be his senior season, but if he receives a medical redshirt he would be able to return in 2014. If Michigan doesn't find out Gardner's status until the end of the 2013 season, it would have to plan for two scenarios: Gardner receiving a medical redshirt and returning for another year or Gardner not receiving a medical redshirt and graduating after the 2013 season.
Obviously Michigan wants to have Gardner around to be the starter for two years, but based on what Hoke said it doesn't appear that the Wolverines will find out if that's possible until quite a ways down the road.