The Opening: Gary Praises U-M Experience

Michigan has hosted Rashan Gary on visits twice in the last couple of months, and each time he came away extremely impressed. However, his most recent stop in Ann Arbor had a greater impact. He recapped the experience to The Michigan Insider at The Opening.

When Rashan Gary and his mother embarked upon their extremely ambitious, nation-wide visit tour earlier this spring, schools that earned spots on their itinerary had to consider themselves fortunate.  Mother and son had plans to stop on so many campuses that each suitor would likely have a single opportunity to impress them enough to earn a spot on Gary’s docket of officials. 

Some rules, however, have exceptions.  When it came to Gary’s visit plans Michigan was one of them.

The five-star lineman had been wowed by his visit experience in Ann Arbor in late March, but his mom wasn’t there to take it in with him.  That was reason enough for him to make his way back in mid-June, this time with mom in tow.

“I already knew what it was and I told her, but she needed to make sure that what I said matched up,” Gary explained.

“I know for a fact that she liked the academics.  I think overall it is a good school.”

Gary’s mother agreed with that assessment despite her harrowing experience of touring the campus on a golf cart that Jim Harbaugh allowed her son to drive.

“We started from the business school so it was good so far and then we went to go get something to eat and then I started driving the street and I started swerving,” Gary recalled.  “They didn’t think that was funny so I straightened up and pulled over (laughter).”

That light-hearted moment was just one of the instances in which Gary saw the other side of Harbaugh… the off-field side that isn’t always so intense.

“He’s cool (and) very down-to-earth,” Gary stated.  “It is easy to talk to him.  He’s a little different, but different in a good way.  He’s a good guy.”

Michigan assistants Greg Mattison and D.J. Durkin made similarly positive impressions.  The talented youngster’s connections with all three grew stronger during his time in Ann Arbor.  But the feather in the Wolverines’ cap is the connection he already has with their Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel Chris Partridge

“That’s my (high school) coach,” Gary said.  “He wouldn’t tell me to go to a place that wouldn’t fit me right.  And like I said, I take his word (for things), and he has been right so far.”

That’s not a signal that the nation’s top player plans to don the winged helmet.  It’s merely an acknowledgement of his strong relationship with his former mentor.  One of mom’s most important pieces of advice to make her son is for him to not pick a school primarily for the coaches.  Gary is taking all such advice to heart.

“We see eye-to-eye on the education part and then after that it drifts off,” Gary said describing what him and his mother look for in schools.  “Then I’ll go into food and she goes into play schemes and all that, but at the end of the day we all came back together and we talk about our ideas.”

One of mom’s strongest ideas is to pay special attention to the support structures in place at the various universities.  Michigan scored high marks with her in that category thanks in large part to Michigan Associate Athletic Director and Director of Athletic Counseling, Greg Harden. Gary’s mother called her interaction with Harden her favorite part of the visit.

Her son came away impressed too.

“He’s cool,” said Gary.  “Not a lot of colleges have a guy like that, when you down you can go to him and he lifts you up and makes sure your mind is right.  Not a lot of colleges have that, so basically he is a parent away from home.”

Another person of influence was Football Operations Assistant Gwen Bush, who has come to be affectionately known as “Mama Gwen.”

“She’s very cool,” said Gary.  “My first time there she made sure that I was safe.  She was basically being my mom while I was there.  Basically, she’s cool, I can talk to her about anything.”

Needless to say, the Wolverines helped themselves on the visit, but exactly how much is a question only Gary (and likely his mother) know the answer to.  It won’t be long before the rest of the world find out.

“No doubt I’ll have a top five for my first game,” Gary insisted.  “That’s the goal and so far I’m going to hit that goal.”

“Right now it is looking (like a commitment will take place at) the All-American game, but if my mind is not made up it will be national signing day.”

Gary’s immediate focus is on trying to make as many additional unofficial visits as he can before narrowing his list down to a lucky quintet.  His mother recently indicated that a trip to Georgia’s “Dawg Night” was the only surefire stop left this summer, but over the last few days Gary has mentioned possible stops at Ole Miss, AuburnAlabama, LSU, and Ohio State.  Five officials will follow, and then it will be time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Gary already knows the factors that will weigh heaviest in that process.

“Make sure my mom is comfortable with the decision and my family coming to see me play games,” he said.  “If that’s alright I’m good.”

For more from Gary’s interview with The Michigan Insider press play below.

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