Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Wearing No. 98 is an honor for Devin Gardner.
Gardner's transformation will be the key storyline of the season.
The redshirt junior entered Michigan as a quarterback, moved to wide receiver—and he was a good one, too—but then regained his role under center after Denard Robinson fell to Nebraska in 2012.
Prior to this season, Gardner was showered with praise from the national media. Although not overly impressive, the 6'4", 210-pound former Inkster High star turned a few heads with a 214-yard, three-touchdown effort against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
That game capped his five-game 2012 resume. That mini stretch was, perhaps, the most dissected five-game sample size in recent memory.
Saturday night, he proved that he's an elite-level quarterback who can lead the charge in important games. That's what the Wolverines need, a gamer. Gardner is that. Minus his pick-six to Stephon Tuitt, Gardner was exceptional versus the Irish.
If he can succeed against a high-caliber defense, imagine what he'll do as Akron and UConn step up to the plate in the coming weeks.
On a side note, having the number of a Michigan legend should help complete the metamorphosis from good to great. Gardner now sports No. 98, the former digits of all-time quarterback Tom Harmon.
He said the following about the distinction through a press release, via CBSSports' Jerry Hinnen.
It's difficult to say how honored I am to wear No. 98. You see Tom Harmon photos and prints all over our building, knowing all of the things he accomplished on the field for this program and then representing our country, and to have the opportunity to speak to his family today, it's kind of surreal. I'm extremely humbled and blessed.
Add a few more pounds of pressure on Gardner's shoulders. He not only dons historical numerals, but he also just downed Notre Dame in prime time with a 294-yard, four-touchdown outburst through the air. He ran for 82 yards and a touchdown, completing the most well-rounded outing of his career.