Michigan Football: QB Gardner Could Develop into Player Like K-State's Klein
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It hasn't taken much time for college football spectators to realize that Devin Gardner is a real-deal, dual-threat athlete.
His game resembles that of a star in the Big 12, and if he keeps it up, he might be in line for postseason-award consideration in 2013.
The Michigan Wolverines' 6'4", 205-pound junior quarterback has created a sideshow much his own during an impressive career-starting, three-game winning streak.
As the injured but recovering Denard Robinson's replacement, Gardner has done more than just fill in—he's commanded a high-scoring offense that's led Michigan (8-3, 6-1) to a trio of Big Ten victories, continuing its chase for a Big Ten Legends Division title and putting it position to outlast the Ohio State Buckeyes at The Shoe this Saturday in Columbus.
However, there is plenty of time for Ohio State Buckeyes talk this week—this is steering in the comparison direction.
Could Gardner evolve into a Klein-like player?
The manner in which Gardner engineers scoring drives and extends those in the works is strikingly similar to the way Kansas State Wildcats star senior quarterback Collin Klein operates.
Klein, a Heisman front-runner prior to this past Saturday's 52-24 knockout of a loss to Baylor, can be incredibly accurate at times, especially while on the run. Completion rates of 65 percent and higher have been quite common, actually.
He evades defenders well with his respectable speed, evident from a multitude of 15- and 20-yard gains throughout the past two seasons. He's No. 2 in the nation with 20 rushing touchdowns, but is just as critical of a threat with his arm as he is with his feet.
Gardner is a lot like him, not only size-wise (Klein is 6'5, 225 pounds), but athletically. He's a slimmed-down, more athletic but not as-physical version of Klein. His numbers and efficiency have been comparable as well.
After his six-touchdown outburst (three rushing, three passing) in Michigan's 42-17 Senior Day trouncing of the Iowa Hawkeyes in Ann Arbor, it was clear that Gardner has an explosive quality that will command even more national attention next season.
Not that he didn't demonstrate a strong skill set in his previous two starts, but the way he galloped past the Hawkeyes was alarming.
Depending just how good MIchigan is in 2013, Gardner could experience a similar type of hype to that which Klein was showered with before losing it all Saturday to the Bears.
Heisman Trophy whispers? Maybe Davey O'Brien or Walter Camp honors?
A particular three-game stretch (West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State) of Klein's may be a small sample to go by, but compare stats from those games and you'll see nearly identical stats as Gardner's.
The competition varies, sure.
Gardner feasted on mediocre Big Ten teams, while Klein has put up jaw-dropping numbers in the form of 300-yard and four-touchdown games against quality Big 12 teams for two years.
But Gardner has the potential to do the same as Klein has—should he retain his role as starter when super-frosh Shane Morris comes calling, of course.
Maybe we're looking too far down the road. Gardner wouldn't have started had Robinson not been injured, and Michigan wouldn't have truly found out about him until next season. However, the way in which Gardner has handled himself during the post-Denard phase has been a prelude of what's to come in 2013.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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