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Michigan QB Devin Gardner shows his character in defeat

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Columbus, Ohio — Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, his right ankle fractured, was lying on the Ohio Stadium field with the medical staff tending to him, when Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner came over to comfort him.

Michigan and Ohio State are rivals, and in this 111th meeting, the Buckeyes got the best of the Wolverines on the field, 42-28.

But Gardner showed his best side and character.

Gardner kneeled beside Barrett, put his right hand on the left side of the injured quarterback's face and spoke words of encouragement.

"I've talked with him a little bit throughout the season, and you hate to see any player get hurt but especially a guy like him who's a great guy, a high-character guy, a hard-worker," Gardner said of Barrett, a redshirt freshman who stepped in when Braxton Miller was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. "He's been called upon and he's executed and done it humbly.

"It's like having a little brother out there get hurt. I don't like to see that at all. I let him know I'm praying for him and told him to keep praying and everything's going to be all right."

Ohio State announced after the game Barrett will undergo surgery Sunday to repair the fracture and is out for the season, including next week's Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin.

Michigan backup quarterback Wilton Speight posted on Twitter the photo of Gardner comforting Barrett and added his commentary.

"Learned a lot from an X's & O's standpoint from him, but finish the season a lot wiser from countless acts like this," Speight wrote on Twitter.

Gardner, who played the last quarter-and-a-half of the Michigan-Ohio State game last season on a broken left foot, started at quarterback the last two seasons for the Wolverines.

He didn't lead the Wolverines to a Big Ten title and spent most of the two years absorbing criticism for his play. Against Ohio State on Saturday afternoon, Gardner was 22-of-32 for 233 yards and threw two touchdowns, took five sacks, and had an interception and a fumble.

"Everybody faces this point in their lives," Gardner said after the game. "It's like, 'All right, you do everything you're supposed to do, you work hard, and what do you do once it doesn't work out the way you thought it would? The answer to that is you continue to do the things you do, work hard and be a good guy."

He finishes his Michigan career with 6,336 yards passing, fourth on Michigan's all-time passing list. His 44 career touchdowns rank him sixth.

Gardner arrived here under former coach Rich Rodriguez and has played for three different offensive coordinators. He also moved to receiver in 2012 to help shore up the position while Denard Robinson was quarterback. Gardner took over late that season at quarterback after Robinson was injured.

"I don't think you can put it in words, especially not a few words," Gardner said when asked to sum up his Michigan career. "It's been a long ride, and I'm just thankful. I thank God for the opportunity I had here. I thank my family and my brothers on this team — I'm around them more than I am my real brothers and sisters."