The editors of Free Press react to the fall of Michigan against Ohio State, 62-39, discussing all angles of Columbus, Ohio, on November 24, 2018.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
Rashan Gary, Michigan's junior defense, is leaving his Michigan season in favor of the NFL Draft.
Gary, a 6-foot 287-pound New Jersey athlete, announced his decision through a YouTube video on Monday. Michigan lost their regular season finale at Ohio State, 62-39 on Saturday in Columbus.
More: Michigan football: What did we learn at Ohio State, what next?
Gary did not immediately specify whether he plans to play in Wolverines' upcoming game, and Michigan has yet to respond to a request to comment on the matter.
The Wolverines will learn their destiny on Sunday.
"I would like to thank my superior power, my family, the University of Michigan and the students and the fans," Gary said in a video. "But I will give up my senior season to make a dream come true (and) declare for the project. Thank you and go blue."
Gary was ranked No. 8 in the next draft by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. earlier this month.
Former No. 1 recruit Gary entered his junior season in Michigan as an All-American preseason (Associated Press, second team) and had the distinction of coach Jim Harbaugh as the "best player" of the program.
His year did not go as planned, however, Gary suffered a shoulder injury just before the Wolverines entered the year in Notre Dame on Sept. 1. Gary played the first three games of the season, but ended up being limited due to injury. weeks three and four.
He lost wins over Maryland, Wisconsin and Michigan State before opting to return to the field for a win over Penn State earlier this month. He was a full participant in subsequent wins over Rutgers and Indiana before playing on Saturday in Ohio.
Speculation grew by the time Gary was able to sit down for the rest of the season in favor of looting, though the defense officials later said that this was never his plan.
"You have to go when your body is ready.Mentally, it's let me do that, let me do it, but my body was not ready," he said earlier this month. "Having my brothers out there, practicing and playing without me, this had a mental toll … It seems like I'm not contributing or doing my job. As a player, it's something that you're not used to … I do not know how to put that in words, it is difficult.
"All through the week (MSU) (I never got there) where I felt I could go out and give 100% to my team.Then we had the goodbye week, it helped me.Then going to Penn State, I felt like I was ready ".
Gary finished the 2018 regular season with 44 tackles (seven for loss), three 1/2 bags and five quarterback pressures. He played in parts of nine games.
If Gary does not play in the bowl game, his career status line – by Michigan's online statistics archive – will be 136 tackles (23 1/2 for a loss), 10 sacks and a forced fumble.
Gary was the first All-Big Ten in 2017 and the winner of the Michigan Richard Katcher Award, presented annually to the lineman's main defender / linebacker in the second year.
Coming from the same school as former Michigan jabrill peppers, Gary came to Ann Arbor in 2016 with as much hype and attention as any recruit in Michigan history – as he became the first recruit in the ranking to sign with Michigan during the era of the online ranking (Rivals began to classify the recruits online in 2002).
Gary played mostly as backup to future draft picks Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton as freshman on the Michigan team by 10-3 in 2016. He finished the year with 27 tackles (five for defeat) and one sack.
His best individual year came in 2017, when Gary became a full-time starter on the defensive side for the first time. He posted 66 tackles (12 for loss) and six sacks.
Gary's greatest asset, in terms of the NFL Draft, is his physical abilities as a defensive striker.
Michigan scored Gary in 4.57 seconds in a 40-yard dash before the start of the 2017 season. That number, if it were, would have been the NFL's third fastest that year. He also posted a 31-inch vertical jump, a 200-yard bus of 25.98 seconds and a 9-foot, 6-inch wide jump.
"He dominates when he's at his best, he only deals with offensive attackers, he has a high ceiling, the problem is consistency," Kiper wrote this month. "Such a great and talented defender should create more pressure and interruptions." Former No. 1 general recruiter disappears too often for my taste.Gary could finish in 3-4 defense or three techniques in 4-3.
Gary is not the only Michigan junior with an NFL decision to make.
Junior linebacker Devin Bush Jr., who said last week that he would probably make his decision in late December or early January, was sixth on Kiper's list. Also appearing in Kiper's rankings were the chants Junior David Long and Lavert Hill, as well as junior striker Ben Bredeson.
Michigan junior quarterback Shea Patterson is also eligible for the next draft.
Please contact Nick Baumgardner at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.