The decision was the culmination of a yearlong courtship that began the moment Jim Harbaugh hired the talented youngster’s former high School coach Chris Partridge. But that’s not why he chose to become a Wolverine. Over four visits to Ann Arbor the five-star standout developed a comfort level with every aspect of Michigan. That had a great deal to do with the comfort his mother Jennifer Coney developed as well. Gary made it clear from the onset of his recruitment that how mom felt would be the deciding factor or him.
And mom loved Michigan too.
“She decided to walk on campus,” Gary said. “She had a good walk, everybody was saying hi and being nice. Up in Jersey you don’t get that a lot. If you say hi to someone they might just keep it pushing, but in Michigan everybody is nice and they answer any type of question you ask.”
The hospitality that was seemingly ingrained in the campus culture made a distinct impression. That much was clear when he was asked what he found surprising at a place with which he’d already become fairly familiar.
“How it’s just family,” replied Gary. “How it’s family. I really took (that to heart).”
For Coney the non-football aspect of the schools her son considered were most important. On that front the Wolverines knocked it out of the park.
"Academics, great coaching staff, great school of business, a great environment on campus and around campus… Ann Arbor is a great town,” Gary’s mother Jennifer Coney stated. “I guess there's so many more…I want to go with Rashan and say the food court (laughter).”
And Gary got to know the off-field side of Jim Harbaugh during all of his visits, but especially during a summer visit where he and his mom had a lot of personal time with his future coach.
“We started (a tour) 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 (cart) in 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 part of Harbaugh 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.”
Partridge told his former and now future protégé that that was the case. And like he did when he was in high school… Gary listened.
“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.”
Stay tuned for more on this breaking news story in the hours to come.