Rashan Gary’s potential has UM’s Mattison fired up

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Rashan Gary

Ann Arbor – Rashan Gary, the nation’s top high school football recruit, is a few months from arriving at Michigan for offseason workouts, but the anticipation has been high for the standout defensive lineman since he signed his letter of intent last month.

Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison discussed Friday during a break in the Michigan coaching clinic that the bar is high for the Wolverines’ veteran defensive line. But most observers believe Gary can immediate compete for significant playing time.

Gary will play defensive end when he arrives but also can play tackle.

“He has the size and strength to do both,” Mattison said. “It’s wherever he plays the best, and wherever we need him.”

The 6-foot-5, 293-pound Gary, from Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, is a cut above in talent and why he was so highly recruited. Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge, Gary’s coach at Paramus before joining Jim Harbaugh’s support staff in 2015, said last week while meeting with reporters he knows him better than any other college coach in the country.

“The sky’s the limit with him,” said Partridge, who also coached Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, at Paramus. “There’s certain players that just have something. It’s a work ethic on the field and in the classroom. It’s a love for the game where they have a bounce in their step every time they hit the field. They (Gary and Peppers) just have it.

“I expect huge things out of Rashan, and he expects that of himself.”

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Michigan is incredibly deep on the defensive line, which features veterans Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton. During the first week of spring practice, Charlton said he and Wormley want to be the best “bookends” in the country.

Mattison didn’t go as far as saying Gary will move right into the starting lineup, but he’s clearly excited about the possibilities.

“In recruiting, and I’ve done this a long time, you see a lot of guys who are really, really talented,” Mattison said. “It’s just like the NFL when you draft a guy very high, you have very high expectations. You’ve obviously put your name on him and obviously said this is one of those guys. Now it’s a matter of what he’s going to be like when he gets here.

“The thing that’s so exciting about Rashan is you can watch a highlight tape and then you can watch entire games and (his performance level) is the same thing.”

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Gary, he said, plays at a high level on a consistent basis.

“The reason a highlight tape is called a highlight tape is because they pick out the best plays,” Mattison said. “Well, you can see a lot of good players doing that. But this young man really is consistent in trying to play the way you want him to play. He’s also very intelligent, very high character.

“I have always looked (at college) like the NFL – a freshman is just like a rookie. Play the best players, it doesn’t matter. So when practice starts, they all go in there together and they’re all the same. Whether a kid’s a fourth-year player or a freshman, the best players play, and whoever can help us win. We’re very, very excited about (Gary) coming in.”

Greg Mattison