Piscataway, N.J. —Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary leaned over to look at the single page of game statistics that had been placed in front of quarterback Shea Patterson a few moments before they would begin taking questions from reporters.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines had just defeated Rutgers, 42-7, to improve to 9-1 overall, 7-0 Big Ten.
Gary, as he leaned close to Patterson to study the numbers, then spoke softly to no one in particular.
“Man, it’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine right now,” Gary said. “Love this team.”
This was a homecoming for Gary and eight of his teammates from New Jersey. He played at Paramus Catholic and was looking forward to this opportunity. He had missed three games with an AC joint injury in his right shoulder and returned a week ago against Penn State.
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“It feels good to make it to another week to be with my brothers first of all,” Gary said. “Being able to come back home and have my family and friends come in to support me and to get a win like this for Michigan fans, our team, man, it’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine right now. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Gary, who was rated the No. 1 player out of high school, has not changed personality-wise from the time he recruited him to now.
“He’s the same good, genuine down-to-earth person he’s always been,” Harbaugh said. “He’s very respectful, he’s quiet somewhat. When he talks, it’s something important. He always works continually, he always works hard. The guys, they choose. Nobody gets to choose for them how hard they work, how hard they play, how precise they are, how smart they are. Nobody gets to choose that for them. They choose that for themselves. He’s always done things at the highest level.”
Gary was touched by the turnout of Michigan fans who attended the game.
“That just shows the support of the fan base,” he said. “You’ve got to love it. First thing, when you join Michigan you’re joining a family. Something that’s more than football, something that’s more than you just being an athlete. Just having that support around you, it only gives you more energy. More energy to put on a show for them. It’s crazy having that support.”
Gary had four tackles and was credited with a share of a tackle for loss.
This team does not lack in personality. Count Gary among those who can be thoughtful, charming and amusing. When asked how his shoulder was holding up, he began to throw air punches and windmill moves with his right arm while Patterson began to laugh.
“I’m out here with my brothers, man, I’m having fun flying around,” Gary said. “Like I said, being around these guys, they give me energy. You tell me how it looks. I’m feeling good, man. Just happy to be out here with my brothers playing football.”
There had been some speculation that Gary, a junior, might not be able to return from the injury and would choose to prepare for his next step. Gary last week said that was never a consideration.
As Gary concluded demonstrating the flexibility of his right shoulder and arm, Patterson chimed in to share his thoughts on how Gary pushed through the injury to return.
“That’s just a testament of his character,” Gary said. “He could easily sit the rest of the season out and achieve his goals and his dreams in a few months, but it’s all about the team and that’s just what makes Rashan, Rashan. He’s all about the team. He’s playing. He’s playing through an injury each and every single week. I’m just so proud of him.”
Gary turned to Patterson and thanked him.
“I appreciate you man,” he said.