Rashan Gary was not officially a starter last year as a true freshman, so the stat of one returning on the defensive side is definitely misleading for anyone who watched him. This season brings a new and exciting role for Gary, a guy who is hungry to succeed with a talented young group with several shoes to fill. His impressive off-season work ethic and leadership ability is developing very natural for the top rated overall recruit in 2016.
In fact, Coach Don Brown has not seen many at this level of athleticism in his 35 years in college. He recently was interviewed in late June and added his praise about Gary saying, “Best I've ever seen combining speed, strength, change of direction, and the mental curve. He's unbelievable. The sky is the limit.”
It’s with little surprise that Bruce Feldman with Sports Illustrated recently ranked Gary at No. 5 in his latest list of 40 workout warriors in college football. This is something he’s compiled for the last 15 years and the Big Ten was represented fairly well in the full list.
Feldman added this about Gary in his story:
Jim Harbaugh certainly stokes those expectations when he tweeted out some off-season workout numbers that spotlighted Gary’s athleticism. On it, the 6’5”, 287-pounder was listed as timing a 4.57 in the 40, fastest among not only Michigan D-linemen, but also the linebackers (a 4.63 was the best among those). Gary also vertical jumped 31 inches and broad-jumped 9’6”.
The other number that was truly stunning at his size was the 6.70 L-drill time. At the 2017 NFL combine, the fastest time for all D-linemen was a 6.85, and you have to go back six years to find a D-lineman that clocked a fastest time than Gary’s 6.70. Sam Acho ran a 6.69 and he did that weighing 25 pounds less. The fastest L-drill time among all Wolverine DBs was a 6.79 and among linebackers was a 6.89.
Other players in the Big Ten that made Feldman’s top 40 list are the following:
No. 1- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
No. 13- Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
No. 17- Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
No. 30- Nate Hoff, DT, Indiana
No. 32- Tyler Lancaster, DT, Northwestern
So, what does this all mean?
Any list, projection, or ranking in July is simply a guess. Many don’t get too worked up over it all, but fans do what they do best, insert their opinion on whether they agree or disagree.
Let me lay out three positives based on all the latest praise for him over the last few weeks to excite all Michigan fans.
- Rashan Gary is fast, very fast. As Don Brown and Bruce Feldman explained, his size and speed will create havoc on quarterbacks and offensive lines this fall. His 27 tackles and five for loss in 2016 could get shattered this fall and have that mid-season.
- He is a freakish athlete and so will probably be the face of this team and its success this year, in the same way that Jabrill Peppers led the way on billboards and commercials whenever Michigan came up. Rashan’s success will be Michigan’s success, and vice versa.
3. He still has plenty of college left to go, and my bold guess is he holds out until 2020 after he graduates with a degree, because education is very important to him, if not more than football.
The bar is set very high for Gary and Michigan fans are eager to see if he can exceed expectations by attacking quarterbacks with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind this fall.