Paye, Vilain give Gary confidence in Michigan's D-line depth

By Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Kwity Paye

Ann Arbor – When Rashan Gary was a freshman defensive lineman at Michigan, he was guided by and learned from upperclassmen Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley, now both in the NFL.

Sharing his opinions on technique with his teammates has never been an issue for Gary, even when he was new to the fold at Michigan. Now that he’s entering his junior season, he has taken an even more hands-on approach with the younger players.

Gary worked Michigan’s camp last Saturday and said he enjoyed “coaching” the high school players through drills because he enjoys the finer details of playing the game.

That is his approach with his younger teammates, as well.

“The more I’m able to show them, the more they can could take heed to it and the more it would make sense to them because I’ve been through what they’ve been through,” Gary said. “My freshman year, I learned from Taco and Wormley.

“And then going through my mistakes my sophomore year, I’ve got a little stuff figured out so I’m able to help them out. I’m doing for them what Taco and Wormley did for me.”

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Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison wants a rotation of two strong defensive lines, with the second line having little dropoff from the first.

Gary said he feels confidence in the Wolverines’ second line. He focused on a few teammates who also were working at the camp, including Kwity Paye and Luiji Vilain, back from a knee injury.

“Kwity Paye came a long way,” Gary said. “When I talk about taking attention to fine detail, this is a prime example. This is my little brother, Kwity Paye, for sure. He’s coming along. I remember one practice how he had like five sacks. He was going crazy. He’s paying attention to fine details.

“We’ve got Luiji coming back. Our whole second line is going to be good, so it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a fun year, so I’m very excited.”

During spring practice, Mattison said Paye, now a sophomore, had grown stronger working with new strength coach Ben Herbert.

“He’s playing like a guy that’s been here before, not like a freshman,” Mattison said during spring practice. I’m really looking for good things from him.”

Vilain, a redshirt freshman, is coming off a knee injury suffered in preseason camp last year that required surgery during the season. He didn’t do much during spring practice, he told reporters last Saturday.

He said that while it was a disappointing start to his career that way, he did use the time to study the game and observe.

“I had high hopes for myself,” Vilain said. “My coaches had high hopes for me. I watched the older guys, learned the defense. They did a really good job of keeping me involved and not letting me get down.”

Gary said after the camp his goal is to see Michigan produce the best defensive line in the country, and that goes for the first line and the second line.

“To be the best in the country, that’s it,” Gary said of the line’s goal this fall. “We come out here every day and push each other. We want to be the best in the country, that’s it.”