Michigan QB Gardner granted extra year

Michigan fans loved what they saw from quarterback Devin Gardner late in the 2012 season.

They'll get to see more of it for the next two years.

Michigan announced Tuesday that Gardner has been granted a medical hardship for the 2010 season, which gives him two more years of eligibility with the Wolverines. Gardner appeared in three games as a true freshman in 2010 before being sidelined by a back injury. He'll be a fourth-year junior this coming season.

While Michigan fans had to wait patiently for a decision on Gardner's status, the outcome is not surprising at all. Although Gardner's status has been written about for some time, once Michigan submitted the necessary paperwork to the Big Ten, there were no problems or abnormalities. Gardner had a clear-cut case for a hardship and received it.

The decision solidifies Michigan's quarterback situation for the next two seasons. Quarterback isn't Michigan's deepest position, so this really helps for the 2014 campaign.

After starting the 2012 season as a wide receiver, Gardner surprised many with his play down the stretch, completing 75-of-126 pass attempts for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions. He accounted for multiple touchdowns in all five of his starts at quarterback and twice earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Michigan last month signed quarterback Shane Morris, an ESPN 150 prospect rated as the nation's No. 8 signal caller by ESPN Recruiting. Morris could redshirt the 2013 season and play behind Gardner in 2014 before moving into a lead role. Russell Bellomy, who struggled in relief of Denard Robinson against Nebraska, also is in the mix, but Gardner's extra year gives Michigan a much bigger cushion. Even if Gardner plateaus or Morris makes an early push for the top job, it's nice to have multiple options.

Great news for the Wolverines, who kick off spring practice March 16.