After Devin Funchess's breakout game against Minnesota three weeks ago, Devin Gardner was asked what goes through his head when he sees the 6'5" Funchess matched up against a 5'11" corner. Gardner responded by saying, "We had another guy on the other side, 5'8", and I feel like he's a mismatch for anybody." At the time, it may have seemed as if Gardner was simply being respectful to senior Jeremy Gallon, the 5'8" guy to whom he was referring. Two weeks later, Gallon showed that Gardner's praise was warranted, when he caught 14 passes for a Big Ten single-game record 369 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Michigan's 63-47 victory over Indiana.
Gallon didn't need his record-setting day, however, to justify Gardner's praise. Despite its 6-1 record, it's been a frustrating season for Michigan, which has dealt with a disappointing defense, an ineffective offensive line and a turnover-prone quarterback. Gallon has been one of the few constants for the Wolverines. Starting strong, with eight receptions for 184 yards and three touchdowns against Notre Dame, Gallon hasn't slowed down. Despite the lack of a consistent secondary receiving threat (until the emergence of Funchess, at least), Gallon has delivered all season as Michigan's number one receiver, proving to be equally adept at converting a first down when needed as he is delivering the big play, to which his 18.5 yards-per-catch average would attest. You could even make the argument that Gallon has been Michigan's most important player this season, something few could claim to have seen that coming, particularly since before Gardner replaced an injured Denard Robinson at quarterback at mid-season last year, Gallon was noted more for his role as a returner than as a receiver.
When Michigan began its transition from a spread option to pro-style offense, the obvious needs were for a strong-armed quarterback, a dominant offensive line and a power running back. A primary receiving threat, however, is also critical to a successful pro-style attack. The prevailing wisdom was that such a receiver needed to be a prototypical, big target - exactly the kind receiver the Wolverines appeared to lack. Ironically, heading into this season Michigan was thought to be further along in other areas, and its receiving corps was the one position at which Michigan appeared to be lacking. Gallon has proven the opposite to be true.
Gallon is doing more than just putting together a senior season worthy of the uniform number he wears, though, he is also moving up Michigan's record book. Gallon already ranks in the top 15 in both career receptions and receiving yards, and by the time his senior season ends, he'll likely be in the top five in both categories. After his performance against the Hoosiers last week, Gallon strengthened the argument that he is among the Big Ten's best receivers. When taking into account both his receiving numbers and his importance to Michigan this season, you can make a similar argument that Gallon deserves to be considered among Michigan's greatest receivers. And who would have thought that a year ago?