Not unexpectedly, Michigan junior defensive end Rashan Gary will forgo his senior season for a shot at the NFL.
Gary announced his decision in a YouTube video he posted on his Twitter page Monday. This comes two days after Michigan’s 62-39 loss at Ohio State. It is unclear whether Gary will play in the Wolverines’ bowl game, which will be announced Sunday. Michigan has not yet responded to a question regarding Gary’s availability for the bowl.
“I would like to thank my higher power, my family, the University of Michigan, the students and the fans,” Gary said in the video. “I will be foregoing my senior season to make a dream come true to declare for the draft. Thank you. Go Blue.”
The 6-foot-5, 283-pound Gary, the No. 1 player in the country coming out of Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High in 2016, is projected a first-round pick. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper ranked Gary No. 8 on his most recent Big Board, two spots behind fellow Michigan junior, linebacker Devin Bush. Kiper ranks Gary the No. 2 defensive end in the draft behind Ohio State’s Nick Bosa.
“He dominates when he’s at his best; he just manhandles offensive linemen,” Kiper said of Gary. “He has a high ceiling. The problem? Consistency. A defender this big and this talented should create more pressure and disruptions. The former No. 1 overall recruit disappears too often for my liking.”
Gary finished the regular season with 44 tackles and seven tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks through nine games. He missed three games — Maryland, Wisconsin and Michigan State — while recovering from an AC joint issue in his right shoulder.
He suffered the injury in camp the week before the Notre Dame game week, and he was in noticeable discomfort in the Northwestern and Maryland games before sitting out the next three. Gary returned to action against Penn State on Nov. 3 and played the final four games.
There had been speculation Gary would not return and focus on his NFL future, as was the case for Bosa, who suffered an early-season injury and because of the length of the recovery opted to concentrate on his NFL future. That never was a consideration as far as Gary was concerned.
“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Gary said a few days after the Penn State game. “We’re in a position we control what we want to control. Those are my brothers. We came here together, we started something, and I need to finish it.”
Gary said at the time it was difficult sitting out the three games before returning.
“I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t,” Gary said, “but having my team behind my back, my coaches behind my back and my family behind my back, they wouldn’t let me get down. They only kept me working, getting treatment, getting right so I could come back. That’s what they’ve been doing. There was no time for me to stop. It was time for, ‘All right, you’re hurt, get healthy, we need you,’ and that’s what was in my head every time.”
But Gary said he paid no attention to what anyone was saying about his future as a Michigan player.
“It wasn’t much on me. Just on my family,” Gary said. “Me, personally, as an athlete, people are going to talk about you, they going to say things they don’t know about you, so why would that affect me? The only person that knows what’s going on is me, you feel me?
“But I feel like from my family’s standpoint, some people in my family are looking at things like that, of course that could get annoying. You’re talking about one of their loved ones. But for me personally it was no stress on me.”
The Wolverines will learn which bowl they will play in on Sunday. It could be the Rose Bowl if Ohio State is selected for the College Football Playoff.