Rashan Gary has some big shoes to fill this season on the defensive line.
With the departures of mainstays like Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton, the coaching staff will expect production to come from the sophomore defensive lineman. While Gary saw playing time as a freshman, having a full season under his belt as he prepares for season two in Ann Arbor has helped significantly.
He, along with so many others on the defense, credit Wormley and Charlton as vocal leaders that have prepared him for his role this season.
A role of a leader.
"It's a big difference," Gary said regarding the transition from his freshman to sophomore year. "Shoot, from freshman year there's a lot to learn. Through Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton I learned that it's now my time to step up and have a leadership role. I'm embracing that the best that I can and getting the young guys behind me coming in ready to go."
While stepping out of his shell to be a vocal player isn't exactly his style, Gary notes that it has to be done in order to get the younger players on the team up to speed. Despite being a gentle giant, Gary is embracing his role as a leader on the team.
"It was weird because I'm a quiet guy," Gary said. "I like to lead by example more than I like to talk. I have to look back at how I was able to learn freshman year. Taco and Chris, they were verbal to me and I've got to do the same and that's what I'm trying to do the best that I can."
The hard work Gary has been putting in during the offseason and spring has been paying dividends. The coaching staff recognize what he's been bringing to practice and received an incredible amount of praise by his position coach, Greg Mattison, as being a young leader and reliable player.
He was rewarded by being named a team captain for the spring game and went out to midfield for the coin toss. A reward he sees from the coaching staff recognizing him as a leader.
"It just shows that the coaching staff sees me as coming into a leadership role," Gary said. "I'm embracing that, it's a good feeling. That just puts another chip on my shoulder to lead by example and also verbally. I'm just going to keep on pushing and do what I have to do."