ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Saturday, New Jersey welcomes back one of its own, when Michigan freshman Rashan Gary suits up against Rutgers for the first time in front of family and friends on his native soil.
“Just the biggest part is being able to see my family again after the game, performing in front of my homes state,” Gary said, who played at nearby New Jersey football powerhouse, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic.
Gary, who was rated the consensus No. 1 player coming out of high school, admits he was recruited locally by Rutgers, but the Scarlett Knights didn’t have enough to overcome the Wolverines in the end.
“Rutgers was one of my top schools because they were one of the first schools that offered me, but as the recruiting process got bigger and bigger, they fell of the list,” Gary said.
So, did Gary ever receive backlash for choosing an out-of-school program?
“Not really, cause to be honest, my recruiting my mom just handled it, so when stuff like that came my way, my mom would just block it from me,” Gary said. “I really didn’t get none of that, maybe she did.”
Gary also credits fellow Paramus (N.J.) Catholic alums Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Jabrill Peppers for starting the “Jersey” pipeline to Ann Arbor, as all three are expected to contribute in the game on Saturday.
“Just knowing those guys, and having coach (Chris) Partridge come that definitely started the New Jersey (pipeline) because everybody knows them, you start building a bond, New Jersey is not that big, basically everybody talks to everybody, so everybody knows everybody.”
And that "Jersey" work ethic has been noticed by Michigan, with 10 current players on its roster from New Jersey.
“Jersey I just feel like we work hard,” Gary said. “We’re blue collar work just coming to work. Nothing too flashy, going out an getting the work done.”
And just because Gary was highly rated out of Paramus, doesn’t mean he’s stopped working on and off the field.
“Just being top-ranked period made me wanted to work hard,” Gary said. “Cause I just know there is someone out there working hard to be in spot. I’m just happy God blessed me with this spot. I’m just going to keep on working to keep it.”
Gary says he plans to continue his working ways at U-M.
“That’s the key, that’s something my mom instilled since I was little,” Gary said. “It’s always stayed with me. I always keep working because I want to be the best at it one day.”
No. 4 Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) plays at Rutgers (2-3) on Saturday at 7. p.m.