Top newcomer: Michigan Wolverines

The newest crop of college football players are starting to arrive on campuses all over the country. Freshmen and transfers will make their first impressions at summer classes and workouts with their new, veteran teammates in the next couple of weeks. Most will be hoping to lay the groundwork for an immediate impact this season. This week on the Big Ten blog, we’ll be identifying the player from each of the league’s teams who has the best chance to become a well-known name by the end of the fall. The Michigan Wolverines are up next.

Michigan top newcomer: DL Rashan Gary

The rich got richer in June along the defensive line in Michigan. The Wolverines were projected to have one of the Big Ten’s best defensive lines during spring practice, and that was before the nation’s top-ranked high school prospect arrived on campus. New Jersey native Rashan Gary has the potential to help make this year’s group one of the best in the nation.

Gary joined his new teammates in Ann Arbor a couple of weeks early so he could get a head start on working out with the strength and conditioning staff and acclimate himself to campus. He said most of the time that he hasn’t spent in the weight room or recovering in his dorm has been filled up by conversations with defensive line coach Greg Mattison. The extra couple of weeks of preparation should give him a better chance to harness the physical talent that has had recruiting analysts and Michigan fans eagerly awaiting his first snaps in a college game.

At 6-foot-4 and in the neighborhood of 290 pounds, Gary will fit in with a position group that is large from top to bottom. The two players who finished the spring listed as the team’s top defensive ends, Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton, check it at 303 and 285 pounds, respectively. Like Wormley, Gary has the potential to play both inside and out, but Mattison said this spring that he expects the the five-star rookie will begin his career at defensive end. He also expects his new addition to be able to live up to the hype.

“The thing that is so exciting about Rashan is you can watch a highlight tape, and then you can watch entire games and it’s the same thing,” Mattison said. “The reason a highlight tape is called a highlight tape is because they pick out the best plays. Well you can see a lot of good players doing that, but this young man really is consistent on trying to play the way you want him to play.”

Gary’s combination of consistency with mental and physical maturity provides the right mix for a smooth transition. The level of talent beside and behind him also alleviates some of the pressure of having to produce immediately, which should help him get his college career off to a strong start.