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Peyton Manning to young QBs: Go ahead and break my record

  • By Dan Parr
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Tony Ding / Associated Press
Devin Gardner took Peyton Manning's message about overcoming adversity to heart this offseason.

CHICAGO -- Peyton Manning would like to see at least one of his records fall, and he's encouraging future NFL quarterbacks to go out and break it.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner served as a camp counselor at the Manning Passing Academy earlier this month and said Peyton implored the young QBs in attendance to go out and top his record of most interceptions in a season by a rookie (28).

In all seriousness, though, Gardner said he took Manning's lesson about overcoming adversity to heart and applied it to his own ups and downs last season.

"I've experienced a lot of success here and a lot of failure, like anybody has. I was at the Manning Academy and Peyton just talked about how he threw 28 picks as a rookie and he's waiting on one of us to break (his record)," Gardner said Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days. "Success and failure is going to come. If I'm not mentally tough enough to endure that, then I shouldn't be playing quarterback, especially not at Michigan.

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" ... A lot of people look at Peyton as this guy who's never had any problems, any adversity, but he's had a lot of adversity, as well. It was exciting to see. If he's (overcome) adversity, why can't I deal with it?"

Gardner completed 208 of his 345 passes last season (60.0 percent) for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, but was very inconsistent during a disappointing campaign for the Wolverines. He missed Michigan's bowl game -- a loss to Kansas State -- with a foot injury.

It appears the starting job is his heading into 2014, although head coach Brady Hoke signaled Tuesday that Gardner will be on a short leash, and possibly could be replaced by Shane Morris, who started the bowl loss to the Wildcats, if he struggles.

"I'm very confident in Devin, and what Devin knows, too, is he better come out and perform every day. If not, we have great competition," Hoke said. "We have a guy who has played snaps. Last year we didn't."

Hoke is counting on new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who was hired away from Alabama, to help make sure Gardner stays on the right track this time around. This will be the third different offense Gardner will have played in since arriving at Michigan, but he's not using the constant scheme changes as an excuse for his inconsistency -- Hoke wasn't buying that as an excuse, either, on Tuesday.

Gardner does, however, seem to be a big fan of the changes being implemented by Nussmeier.

"He's going to use my skill set as best as possible," Gardner said. "That's what we talked about and I'm excited for it."

The key for Gardner might just be not trying to do too much -- Hoke said the signal-caller must do a better job of trusting that his teammates will help him.

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