... that Devin Gardner actually uses that fifth season of eligibility with the Michigan football program?
If his draft stock flourishes after the 2013 season, then it would be the prime time for Gardner to strike while the iron is hot. Of course, Taylor Lewan seemed assured of NFL riches after this season, but the sure-fire first-rounder chose to stay for his final season of eligibility in Ann Arbor.
Does Devin Gardner have an NFL future, or will he go the route of Denard Robinson and become an converted NFL kick returner/punt returner/wide receiver/running back? No definitive projections have been made yet for Gardner, as far as his pro future goes, but he's panned out well so far in Ann Arbor - in 2010, former NFL coach Sam Wyche told ESPN.com that Gardner had a bright future ahead of him, football-wise, and that he was going to be a "big-time player at Michigan."
Gardner came to Michigan in 2010 from Inkster (Mich.) High School as a quarterback but began the 2012 season at wide receiver, where he had 16 catches for 266 yards and four touchdowns.
A week after Denard Robinson sustained an injury to the ulnar nerve in his right arm in a 23-9 loss Oct. 27 at Nebraska, Gardner moved to quarterback, where he played for the rest of the season. In five games at quarterback, Gardner completed 75 of 126 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns and was intercepted five times. And at times in that five-game stretch, he was arguably one of Michigan's most dynamic players, as well as a solid decision-maker and a player who didn't get rattled.
Case in point, the Outback Bowl. After South Carolina took a 27-22 lead on Ace Sander's fourth-quarter touchdown catch, Gardner steered a 10-play, 64-yard drive that ended in Jeremy Gallon's touchdown - likely Michigan's response to Jadeveon Clowney's thundering hit on Vincent Smith on its previous drive.
(Of course, Michigan lost on a late-game touchdown by little-used wide receiver Bruce Ellington, who burned three defenders on South Carolina's final play. With 11 seconds left, Michigan couldn't answer on its final play - a long passing attempt by Gardner.)
Gardner will have to prove that the final five games of 2012 weren't just happenstance, a culmination of the right things happening in the right places at the right times. Gardner has the tools to continue to be a solid quarterback and to potentially develop in regards to his future past Ann Arbor.
He had one more season to prove his stock. Now he has two.