The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 23 of 83

24 THE WOLVERINE NOVEMBER 2016 showed me how to play the game." That's how it's supposed to work, but the process seems especially produc- tive in this case, given Gary's will- ingness to learn, combined with the veteran duo's diligence in showing him the ropes. "It's slowing down so much," Gary insisted, regarding the always-daunt- ing uptick in the speed of the game from one level to the next. "The first game, my mind was ev- erywhere. But week-by-week, I'm working on my keys. Taco and Worm- ley are helping me out with that. I'm getting better, focusing on my job." Gary brought both grit and enthusi- asm with him to Michigan, and dem- onstrated early on he wasn't going to be easily sidelined. His resilience is something head coach Jim Harbaugh noticed right away once fall camp hit. The true freshman dislocated a fin- ger the very first week of that August crucible. "The took him in, put it under the X-ray," Harbaugh recalled, following Gary's breakout performance against UCF in which he totaled five tackles, including two for loss. "The trainer was like, 'Man, what is that?'" Gary's no-worries response: "That's football." Harbaugh later pulled Gary out of a practice due to cramping issues. The sidelining proved extremely short lived, Harbaugh explained with a smile of approval. "Six plays later, I saw he was back in there," Harbaugh said. "He's really good like that. A real football player. Doing a great job." He's also someone that takes coach- ing well, not only from the big broth- ers but by the Michigan staff as well, according to defensive line coach Greg Mattison. "These guys come around every once in a while that are ready to play on the next level when they get to college," Mattison observed. "He's one of those guys. It goes back to high school coaching and the way these guys condition now during the offseason and in high school, and the preparation they go through. "They go through these individ- ual camps and things other players didn't do before. Coming up early really helps players." Not mentally translating a good start and a physically imposing pres- ence into somehow thinking you've arrived helps as well. Then again, Gary sees all around him what he can become by taking the raw materials and applying them diligently over time. "With this group of defensive line- men, every day I learn from them in practice," Gary said. "I like to ob- serve, and everything I see, I take notes on. I want to work on my craft and be the best I can. With this de- fensive line group, you've got to take notes because any day anything can happen." STAMPS OF APPROVAL Ben Bredeson knows well the chal- lenge of getting thrown into the mix with the big boys as a true freshman. The rookie left guard for the Wolver- ines has seen plenty of action and ex- perienced how difficult it is, ramping up his already lofty opinion of his classmate on the other side of the line. Bredeson came to Michigan in a class he knew would make an im- pact, a belief held in part because of players like Gary signing on to bolster it. "Rashan and I are great friends," Bredeson assured. "Just to watch him compete — it's so much fun to watch. He has that intensity and that fire in him every single play. You can see it. It's visible. "You can really appreciate it when you've gone against him. He and I practiced against each other all week Gary has impressed his coaches and veteran teammates with his toughness and willingness to learn. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Fifth-year senior Chris Wormley on Gary "Look at him over there. He's a freshman. He's what, 18 years old? He's 6-5, 290, an unbelievable pass rusher, quick off the ball. He's a fast learner. You put all of that together as a fresh- man, and it's something special that is brewing. He's a good kid. He plays hard, he plays fast and he just wants to win."

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