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According to Michigan’s second-year defensive coordinator Don Brown, sophomore defensive end Rashan Gary could be the “best I’ve ever seen.” Brown went on to add, “Best I’ve ever seen combining speed, strength, change of direction, and the mental curve. He’s unbelievable. The sky's the limit.”

“The good thing is I think he understands that there’s a lot on his shoulders.”

Gary saw the field last year as a true freshman and contributed a total of 27 tackles on a Michigan defense that was one of the best in the nation. However, with several key players having departed for the NFL, Gary is expected to have a major role for Brown’s defense in the coming season.

Work Ethic and Leadership

You would think comments like Brown made would put added pressure on a young player like Gary. But Brown doesn’t believe so because of how he carries himself. 

“There’s no air,” he said. “He’s a humble guy. Just goes about his business every day. Not only is he a great player, he’s a tremendous young man to be around. Every single day he’s the same. I marvel how he carries himself on a day-to-day basis.”

There’s also no ego with Gary even as the No. 1 overall recruit in 2016 out of Paramus (N.J.) Catholic.   According to Brown, he just goes about his business and is one of the hardest workers in the program. This allows him to give advice to not only his younger teammates but also the older ones. Because of his work ethic, he is already showing his leadership skills even at his young age.

When you combine his work ethic and leadership skills with incredible physical tools, you have the player that Brown expects to emerge this season. Already a physical specimen at 6’5” and 287 pounds, Gary ran an incredible 4.57 in the 40 yard-dash during the spring, an almost unheard of time from a player that size.

Michigan recently held some camps for high school students and Gary was one of several Wolverines who helped Brown run the sessions. According to Brown, Gary worked with many of the campers on a one-on-one basis offering feedback and assistance while never acting condescending. 

High Hopes for 2017

The Wolverines led all schools with 11 players drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. Two of those players, Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley, came from the defensive line. Having talent like that allowed Gary to use his freshman season as a learning experience. Sure, he had plenty of playing time, but Brown was able to bring him along slowly and allow him to learn the ropes knowing that he will play a much bigger role in his sophomore season.

Several publications have already come out and named Gary Rashan as one of the breakout stars of the 2017 College Football season, and with good reason. Even though Gary realizes there will be a lot on his shoulders when the season gets underway, there are few who don’t think he’ll be up to the challenge. 

So whether or not you’re a Big Ten fan or Michigan fan, make it a point to catch a Wolverines game this fall and look for Rashan Gary. You may just be seeing the best there’s ever been.