ANN ARBOR – Sophomore defensive end Rashan Gary was a prized freshman recruit last season who diligently took lessons as a backup to seniors Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton. Those two are now in the NFL and it’s Gary’s turn to step into a starting role for Michigan.
Gary met with the media Tuesday night, his first appearance since preseason practices began July 31. He’s being called upon to provide more than just sacks and tackles for the Wolverines this season; coach Jim Harbaugh, defensive coordinator Don Brown and defensive line coach Greg Mattison have lauded Gary’s leadership ability despite the defensive end never having started a game. That’s one aspect he’s taking seriously as the season opener against Florida on Sept. 2 draws closer.
Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Mo Hurst sees the growth in Gary this year.
“Me and Rashan hang out all the time,” Hurst said. “We both try to push each other throughout our practices and we’re both really hard on each other and try to make sure we’re both playing up to our potential, because we both know we can be great players when we play up to that potential.”
Gary said he weighs 288 pounds now, down from 298 when he arrived last year, and his body fat is down from more than 20 percent last year to 14 percent now.
Here’s some of what Gary had to say. You can watch the entire interview session below.
Any foods you’ve had to cut out?
“Ice cream. Once a week that’s definitely my cheat.”
With all the attention you’ve gotten, did you learn anything from Jabrill Peppers last year?
“No doubt. Just watching how he put himself in certain situations. That’s my brother and I still talk to him today with certain issues.”
How’s the defensive line depth coming along?
“I feel like we’re coming along. We’ve just got to get the freshmen ready to go. Once we get people to know what they’ve got to do, we’re going to be a solid team.”
What were you frustrated about last year?
“Just wanting to be great. Not wanting to disappoint a lot of people.”
Was it hard not having the sacks and stats?
“I look at everything as a growth process. I told myself when I came to Michigan that I’m going to wait my turn, I’m going to learn everything I can so when it’s times like this I’m able to do what I can.”
What’s leadership mean to you?
“If you see somebody struggling you show them the way. You lead by example. Also, when they’re down, and they don’t know what to do, you’ve got to be their big brother, pick them up and tell them ‘Let’s go.’ ”
That’s not too big of a job for you as a sophomore?
“It’s a role I’ve had all my life, except for freshman year when I got here. It’s something coach said I needed to do coming in this year. It was weird at first. I was like ‘Wow. I’m in college and now I’ve got to be a leader.’ ”
How’s (freshman) Aubrey Solomon doing?
“He’s a beast. He’s a beast. He’s a young, humble guy. That’s my roommate, actually, in camp. He’s in the playbook every night. If he doesn’t know a play, he’ll chat me and wake me up. ‘What’s up?’ He’s up studying. That’s a young, hungry guy.”