A three-star prospect and the No. 33-ranked QB prospect in the nation, Gardner, Louisville's top quarterback target in the Class of 2012, visited the Cardinals last week. He picked Louisville over offers from Alabama and Mississippi State.
After considering offers from SEC programs Mississippi State and Alabama, Gardner called Louisville Monday and told Ron Dugans, his main recruiter, Shawn Watson, UofL quarterbacks coach, and Strong he wanted to commit.
"They were very excited," Gardner said. "Louisville told me I was their No. 1 quarterback [recruit] and I told my dad that I want to go somewhere that I'm wanted. I was really wanted at Louisville and when I went up there [last week for my visit] it was more than I expected. It was really nice and I love Coach Watson. They just made me feel at home."
Gardner attended camps at Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State and Southern Miss this summer before choosing to accept the Cardinals offer. He should fit perfectly into Louisville's spread offense after a probably redshirt season in 2012.
"They're going to throw the ball and they're going to run it," Gardner said. "They said they're not going to ask their quarterback to run it unless he has to. That's the kind of offense I'm looking for.
"Coach Strong told me I'd probably be redshirted just to get some separation there with [Teddy Bridgewater] and give me a year to get on my feet. I want to redshirt so I can get that year to work out and learn the offense so when my freshman year comes I have a chance to compete for a starting position."
As a junior, Gardner established himself as one of the top quarterback prospects in Georgia after leading Coffee County to the state playoffs.
"Will Gardner is a very mobile quarterback that knows how to deliver a very catchable ball," said Scout.com Southeastern Recruiting Director Chad Simmons. "His mobility and ability to buy himself time in the pocket are two strengths of his. Throwing with accuracy consistently is another one."
Though he'll need to add strength to compete in the Big East, Gardner possesses the necessary skills to be successful at the next level.
"He is very thin, so he needs to add weight and get stronger to take the hits in the pocket and down the field," added Simmons. "He also can improve arm strength, learning to throw more with his lower body could help there."
Gardner becomes Louisville's ninth commitment in the 2012 recruiting class, joining corners Kevin Houchins and Demetrius Frazier, offensive linemen T.C. Klusman and Sid Anvoots, tight end Larry Jefferson, receiver Brandon Snell, defensive tackle Teko Powell, and punter Josh Appleby.
"I'm firm with my decision," Gardner said. "I'm not looking anywhere else."
Gardner also is Louisville's fifth three-star recruit.