By Liz Vukelich, Daily Sports Editor
Published August 27, 2013
With four days to go until the season opener against Central Michigan, Michigan football coach Brady Hoke announced three new recipients of the Michigan Football Legends jerseys.
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Senior defensive back Courtney Avery will don No. 11, in honor of the three Wistert brothers, who each wore the number during the course of their Michigan careers.
Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess will wear Ron Kramer’s No. 87 jersey, and fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon was issued Heisman winner Desmond Howard’s No. 21.
“The Legend jerseys aren't simply given, but earned,” Hoke said. “Each of these three young men has done a great job of representing this program, and they understand the significance each of those numbers carries. I think they will do a great job of honoring those legacies.”
Athletic Director Dave Brandon instated the Legends jerseys prior to the 2012 season as a way of bringing retired numbers back into circulation. Avery, Funchess and Gallon join the likes of redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan and junior linebacker Desmond Morgan, both of whom were honored with Legends jerseys last year.
The recipient of the final Legends jersey — Heisman winner Tom Harmon’s No. 98 — will be announced before kickoff at the Notre Dame game on Sept. 7.
GARDENER’S GREATEST HITS: Devin Gardner has had a relatively pain-free eight months.
The redshirt junior hasn’t taken a hit since the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 against South Carolina, and he has been off-limits during spring and fall camps.
It’s easy to minimize hits in the controlled environment of practice. The coaches are doing their best to continue the trend into actual games.
“We’re not going to run him 25 times a game. Those days are over,” said offensive coordinator Al Borges. “To say that all he’s ever going to do is throw the ball or hand it off, we’re not doing that either. We can’t play scared.”
It’s no secret that Gardner can’t afford to take a beating, especially with the lack of depth behind him at the quarterback position. His backup, Shane Morris, is a freshman.
Gardner said this backup will have nothing to do with his decision-making.
“I’m not that kind of guy, if I’m going to get one extra yard and it’s not a first down, there’s no reason to take a hit,” Gardner said. “I’ve been playing football since 1998, I know how it feels to get hit.”
FEELING FRESH: When asked which freshmen he thought could make an immediate impact for the Wolverines, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison gave a list that included defensive backs Channing Stribling and Jourdan Lewis and linebacker Ben Gedeon.
But leaving Dymonte Thomas and Taco Charlton off the list? That was unintentional.
“I don’t count (them) as freshmen because they came early,” Mattison said. “And they’re not playing like a new freshman too. Those guys had a whole spring under them. “
NOTES: Borges said fifth-year senior tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint looks like “the old Fitz” now that he’s recovered from his leg injury, but he wouldn’t commit to what the running back rotation would look like beyond Toussaint. ... Whereas Mattison was quick to name the freshmen who he thought would make an immediate impact, Borges wouldn't comment on how many true freshmen he would play on offense.