Michigan affirming its offer to Paramus (N.J.) Catholic DL Rashan Gary last week probably qualifies as mere formality in the grand scheme things. The nation’s #1 recruit could’ve called Jim Harbaugh up two seconds after he was hired and committed with no questions asked. Nevertheless Gary still appreciated the new regime making things official.
“Knowing that the old coaching staff wanted me, but now the new staff coming in and showing me the love is great,” Gary told GoBlueWolverine.
Only recently has he been able to sit back and enjoy recruiting distinctions such as that. Interest from college coaches has been immense for a few years, but his attention turned away from it last fall.
Gary’s transfer from Scotch Plains-Fanwood to Paramus Catholic prior to his junior year was wrought with controversy. Allegations that the talented youngster had been recruited to his new school brought into question his eligibility. A hearing was convened by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to determine whether any rules had been violated in the transfer. The NJSIAA ultimately decided that there was insufficient proof of impropriety and declared him eligible.
“My mom took a lot of stress off me,” said Gary. “She was like, ‘don’t worry about it. I’ve got you! It’s not over.’ Throughout that whole court thing she was like, ‘don’t worry… I got you.’ She took a lot of pressure off my back and she was right. I played in my first game.”
One of the people instrumental in helping both Gary and his mother through that stressful period was Paramus Catholic headman Chris Partridge. Looking back on it all Gary doesn’t know if they would’ve had the strength to endure all the scrutiny were it not for his coach.
“Coach Partridge really helped my family during that time,” said Gary. “He told me to keep my head up and just focus on football. ‘Focus on football. You get ready by your first game and I promise you that you’ll play your first game.’ He was right.”
“That’s my guy. That’s someone that I can come to for personal things (outside of) football. I can talk to him about school and on a personal level. He gives me advice. When I got (to Paramus Catholic) he made me feel like it was home. That’s somebody that definitely keep in contact with the rest of my life with.”
With all of the off field drama settled, Gary’s immense talent rose to the fore on it. When the curtain fell on his junior campaign he’d racked up recording 55 tackles, 14 sacks, and 24 quarterback hurries en route to NJ.com Defensive Player of the Year, Big North Conference Player of the Year, and first-team all-state honors.
“From the time I got here my teammates showed me a lot of love,” said Gary. “(Paramus Catholic is really family. They showed me that on my visit with them. It was great. Then on the football field, I’m old school and PC does a lot of things (old school). During out summer camp, we studied film. We study film now, but at my old school we didn’t study film. I’m getting a feel for the game because now also I came here playing three technique, but I moved to outside. So that was a change and at the end of the year I started picking it up. You see me my first game playing and how I progressed game by game? I got better just because of my coaches.”
The thought of a better Rashan Gary just makes college coaches salivate more. The jockeying for position will only intensify in the coming months, and Michigan has a few feathers in its camp that should help its cause. One of the lures for the Maize & Blue is the family the talented youngster has in Detroit.
“It’s my mom side,” Gary said. “When I do go up there, I’m going to go visit some family and also visit the campus. If I do commit there, I have family that would (be close) there.”
Another source of support that would be close is Partridge. According to Northjersy.com, the man that helped mold Gary, and Jabrill Peppers before that, has been hired as Michigan’s new recruiting operations coordinator. Those lures will likely help make the Maize & Blue a major player in the five-star prospects recruitment. That, however, does not mean that Michigan is his favorite or that the Wolverines are among his favorites. A leaderboard hasn’t been determined yet. He insists he had put recruiting on the backburner until recently.
“My mom pulled me away from (recruiting) and said just focus on football,” Gary explained. “She said at some time we’re going to take our visits and I said okay. We’re going to take my visits this spring and summer.”
“I think once I start taking my visits throughout the spring and summer (a leaderboard will be set). I need to go see a campus before I come up with a top college.”
Expect Ann Arbor to be among the stops.
“I’m definitely going to take that visit and I’m going to see how I like it,” he said.
When he gets to town one of the discussions will almost certainly be about how the Wolverines envision using him, but after his experience wreaking havoc up and down the line for the Paladins the 6-4 290-pounder believes he can be successful anywhere a school wants to put him.
“(Position) really doesn’t matter,” he said confidently. “My coaches got me ready to play outside and inside or wherever. That’s my feeling… when I step on a college campus, if they want me to play inside… I’m used to it. I’ve done it before. If they want me to play outside, I’m used to it and I’ve played it before. Now I just got to perfect things at both positions… defensive tackle and defensive end. I’m comfortable at both positions.”