Hoke met with reporters Monday and said some Wolverines were "testing the waters" with the NFL. Hoke was asked the identity of the players and how many there were, but he didn't directly answer the questions.
Asked if Gardner was one of the players, Hoke responded, "I'll let you ask him that," thewolverine.com
Thing is, Gardner hasn't been made available to the media since the Ohio State game on Nov. 30.
Hoke also said, "I would plan on them all returning. There are always some guys that want to test the waters, so we'll let them do that."
Hoke is right: Numerous draft-eligible underclassmen smartly ask the advisory board for feedback. But there is some intrigue with Gardner, a fourth-year junior. For one, when Hoke said in early December that Gardner would return, he admitted he had not spoken with Gardner. Two, Gardner already has his undergraduate degree and is going for a master's in social work.
Michigan faces Kansas State in the Dec. 28 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but Gardner might miss that game. He has turf toe and Hoke said he is on crutches. He hasn't practiced since before the Ohio State game, and Hoke said that if Gardner doesn't start practicing this week, he likely would be unable to play in the bowl.
Gardner (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) has thrown for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. But his completion percentage is just 60.3 and he has played only one full season at quarterback for the Wolverines; he spent half of the 2012 season at wide receiver. He has some upside as a quarterback because of his athleticism and his arm, but he's a long way from a finished product.