Devin Gardner and Vincent Smith: The Next Great U-M Backfield Duo

Adam BoutonCorrespondent INovember 16, 2009

One hasn't even set foot on campus yet, while another is making a stir in the Michigan backfield.

They are Devin Gardner and Vincent Smith, Michigan present and future.

Both have oozing potential and should be important players in the coming years for the Maize and Blue.

How soon is the question.

Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier seemed to have the position locked down for years to come after gutsy performances against Notre Dame and Michigan State. However, after a series of losses and some rather questionable performances from Forcier, the future at the position seems to be up in the air.

His durability and small size are a question and he doesn't seem like the glove to fit the hand of Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.

Denard Robinson is the type of athlete that could work at the quarterback position, but that is provided that he learns how to effectively throw the ball down the field.

The man who is throwing passes and running past defenders in the Michigan high school playoffs currently might be the best person for the job.

Gardner, a senior at Inkster High School, has the tools both with his arm and his legs to be the type of guy Rodriguez is looking for behind center.

He may not get a shot right away, but the buzz surrounding him before he even gets to U-M has to be a telling sign that everyone is eager for his arrival.

One player who has already arrived on the Michigan football scene is Smith.

The freshman from Pahokee, Fla. has found some reliable playing time as the season has progressed.

He found some playing time on passing downs during the Wisconsin game and also was able to find the end zone during the first half for the Wolverines. He has good speed and makes quick cuts as a small back.

Smith and Michael Shaw should be the two competing for the starting tailback job next season as both Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor graduate. But in the long run, I won't be surprised at all to see Smith take the role solely.

Just imagine back to when Rodriguez had both Pat White and Steve Slaton in the same backfield.

Gardner and Smith could come close to that.

They probably won't match it, but they are the types that fit those two West Virginia prodigies the best.

Next year could mark a new era in Michigan football. Finally. Gardner and Smith should be a part of that.

The Michigan offense, however you look at it, looks bright with the arrivals of prospects and with the players already suiting up for the Wolverines.

Even with the current season heading south, there is reason to believe in the future.

And it could include a stalwart backfield with Devin Gardner and Vincent Smith.