The consensus No. 1 recruit, Rashan Gary, announced on National Signing Day that he'll play his college ball for the Michigan Wolverines.
All four major recruiting services rate the defensive tackle from Paramus (NJ) Catholic High School as their No. 1 overall prospect, thanks to his combination of size and explosive athleticism. Gary stands 6'4 and at 290 pounds has the mass and strength to push around opposing blockers. He last played in the Under Armour All-American Game on Jan. 2.
His two finalists: Clemson and Michigan, with the Wolverines a longtime favorite and the Tigers only entering the picture late. Alabama and Auburn were also in the running until this week.
Gary's commitment to Jim Harbaugh will help push Michigan toward the top five recruiting classes and provide more evidence of a Wolverine renaissance. The New Jersey star had been leaning towards Ann Arbor late in his recruitment; SB Nation recruiting analyst Bud Elliott predicted that the tackle would choose UM back on January 13th. Analysts at 247Sports put Gary's odds of donning the blue and maize at 74 percent in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day.
The Wolverines had a few key advantages beyond their head coach's willingness to spend the night at a recruit's house. They hired Gary's former high school coach Chris Partridge as director in 2015 of recruiting operations and also have two of his former teammates, Jabrill Peppers and Juwann Bushell-Beatty, on their roster.
Plus, his mom loves Michigan's academics.
A commitment to Clemson would come as a bit of a surprise, despite a recent visit.
He had offers from nearly every football powerhouse in the country including LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida State, Michigan State, Florida and USC. He took four official recruiting visits, to Auburn, Ole Miss, Michigan and USC.
So, why were coaches so enamored with the biggest thing to come out of New Jersey since Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet? From an upcoming SBNation.com piece by Ian Boyd:
When you watch Gary's tape, taking stock of his developed skills and athletic possibilities, you see he's the rare athlete who's not a tweener. He's not trapped between college positions without a firm command of the skills needed to excel in either. He is instead legitimately versatile enough to project as a dominant player in many roles.
You can see the height come into play. Gary's exceptional reach allows him to keep blockers at bay.
His absurd 40 time and vertical leap ability help explain how it is that he gets off the ball so fast and is able to beat offensive tackles to the edge.
You can see the lightning quick shuttle time reflected by his lateral quickness and ability to play in space on the edge or stunt across multiple gaps as a blitzer.
When he's had the opportunity to beat opposing OL to a spot, he's truly dominated. His hands swat away their feeble attempts to control them, and then he closes on the ball carrier with the lateral quickness to swallow up attempted jukes.
Fantastic SPARQ numbers aside, Gary's hands are probably his greatest attribute, or a close second behind his motor. (he has great ability to play multiple high-effort snaps in succession). Rashan has violent and active hands that make it very difficult for athletically overmatched OL to slow him down.
Here's what he did to opposing quarterbacks and running backs in 2015.
You can keep up with Gary on Twitter at @RashanGary33.