ANN ARBOR, Mich. — There are two versions of Rashan Gary: 1. The normal, every-day college kid; and 2. The Michigan football superstar-in-the-making.
Thus far, it’s been somewhat difficult separating the two personalities. However, every now and then, someone drops a line that perfectly describes the Wolverines freshman.
Following Michigan’s 51-14 win Saturday over UCF, fifth-year senior captain Chris Wormley chimed in at exactly the right time — just seconds before Gary had a seat and a split second after being asked a question about Gary’s potential — with a spot-on analysis of the former No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation.
“I mean, look at him over there. He’s a freshman, he’s what… 18 years old… 6-5, 295/290. Unbelievable pass rusher, quick off the ball,” said Wormley, pointing toward his teammate from a table in the Crisler Center media room. “Learns the defense very well — he’s a fast learner.
“You put all those together as a freshman, that’s something special that’s brewing. He’s a good kid. He plays hard, he plays fast and, you know, he just wants to win.”
Despite being a bit nervous during his first start, Gary appears to have become more comfortable with his role on the defensive line. On Saturday, he was one of many Wolverines who disrupted UCF’s backfield. Gary posted six tackles, including 2.5 for a loss and a sack.
“It was a great moment. I was itching for a sack this week because I didn’t get one last week, and I felt like I owed the D-line — because I missed one (versus) Hawaii, and I’m like, ‘I’m not going to miss any opportunities that I get from now on,” Gary explained, smiling and leaning toward the microphone. “So when I got that sack, it was basically for the D-line.”
Just two games into his collegiate career, Gary has already become quite self-aware. He’s already talking about correcting mistakes and further acclimating himself with one of the best fronts in the game. With that said, he’s the Wolverines’ fifth-leading tackler and one of their most-often used workhorses — he played nearly the entire game vs. UCF.
Not many offensive linemen are equipped to go solo with Gary. At a minimum, the recipe calls for a pair of large tackles and guards. Going 1-on-1 just won’t work against a kid who had held tight with grown men during a rigorous preseason camp.
According to coach Jim Harbaugh, Gary embodies the term “football player.” During his postgame presser, the second-year Wolverines coach described a moment when Gary had injured his finger in camp. With a crooked digit, Gary went to have it taped, as if it were just routine.
And really, it was.
No complaints. Just a quick touch-up.
In hindsight, a small price to pay — right?
Those type of strong-willed defenders are perfect for coordinator Don Brown’s defense, which already has seven sacks on the year. A good portion of the D-line’s “knock-back” success can be directly traced to Gary, who had never come across as nervous to his coach.
The word “potential” doesn’t even begin to describe Gary’s ceiling. Size, speed, strength — his natural talent fits well with a coachable mentality. Get used to seeing Gary used as an every-down threat.
Harbaugh seems pretty confident in the freshman, so it makes sense to make such a call.
“I like everything about his ability,” Harbaugh said.
— Sports in the Mitten (@SITMBigAndKid) September 12, 2016