Gary Finally Makes it Back to Happy Valley

The five-star sophomore defensive tackle was camping the last time he visited PSU. This time he took in a game.

Rashan Gary is just a sophomore at Scotch Plains (N.J.) Fanwood, but he's already a five-star recruit. He is nearing double digit offers and visiting a number of highly regarded programs.

Last Saturday, the Class of 2016 defensive tackle took his 6-foot-4, 280-pound frame to Penn State, taking in the Lions' home finale with Nebraska. He had intended to be on campus for Penn State's Homecoming game with Michigan, but something came up. Still, he knew he had to make it to see recruiter Larry Johnson, his defensive line and Penn State as a whole in action before the season ended.

"I wanted to go down and feel the surroundings and everything," Gary said. "I got everything I wanted to out of the visit. I met with Coach Johnson, [head coach Bill O'Brien], and we got to talk this and that. [Johnson] gave me some tips on how I can get better this off-season."

Gary's recruitment blew up last summer, as camp stops at Ohio State and Penn State netted offers, while Alabama, Michigan, Maryland, Rutgers and Florida make up some of the other seven programs to offer to date. His trip back to University Park was his second of the year, and this time, he was watching, rather than performing.

The tackle wasn't bothered by the frigid temperatures in Happy Valley, but he was affected by the chat he had with Johnson and O'Brien, who each took time out of their pre-game routine to talk to Gary and his family.

"When you talk to [O'Brien], he has energy when he needs it, which is awesome, but he's also calm," Garry said. "He told me to stay humble and keep putting work in, because I have a God-given gift. [Coach Johnson], he has a good reputation of putting linemen in the draft, and I just like the energy he brings to games.

"He's calm, but when he needs to get on you, he gets on you. When I was watching the game, I saw some of the technique he was teaching me [this summer]. I used it this season, and it helped me a lot."

Despite Johnson being his main contact, Gary said he's found the entire PSU staff to be friendly and accommodating.

Gary said he has no additional visits planned, but intends to hit the camp circuit again next summer. He finished the Raiders' 2-8 season with a reported 50-plus tackles and two forced fumbles.

"The crowd, it was just crazy," Gary said to sum up the visit. "It was crazy. It was 40 degrees or below, and the fans were screaming their heads off. The atmosphere — I could see myself playing in a place like that because of the energy.

"The defensive linemen play hard every single snap, and you never see anyone give up. The defense just kept going all day in Coach Johnson's rotation."

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