June 10, 2016
PARAMUS, N.J. — Rashan Gary is already officially a Michigan Wolverine.
And next week, he’ll officially be a resident of Ann Arbor.
But as was the case with the last five-star Michigan signee (Jabrill Peppers), Gary’s work on the recruiting trail is not over.
“The whole nation, I’m trying to get everybody on Michigan,” Gary said this week at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey. “I want (Michigan to be a place where people) talk about it as a school that can go to the national championship every year. That’s what I want. So I’m recruiting the best of the best.”
Gary spent plenty of time Wednesday during Michigan’s satellite camp stop in New Jersey chatting up four-star center Cesar Ruiz, a New Jersey native who currently plays at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Ruiz — who has Michigan on his list of finalists — is the No. 1-ranked center in America for 2017, per 247sports’ composite list.
But Ruiz isn’t the only player Gary says he’s going after.
He’s going after everyone.
“To be honest, I’m contacting the whole ESPN150 for 2017,” said Gary, the top-ranked recruit in 2016. “I will be in your DMs.
“So get ready.”
Peppers’ original decision to sign with Michigan in 2014 seemed to open a new door for the Wolverines into the state of New Jersey.
Jim Harbaugh kicked the door open a bit more when he hired ex-Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge in early 2015, but to a man, each one of Michigan’s six signees from the Garden State — including Gary — in 2016 spoke about the influence Peppers had on their decision.
Not every player knew Peppers intimately — some, like Gary and running back Kareem Walker, did — but they all knew of him from his playing days as a high school player.
Gary, of course, is in the same boat. Not just in New Jersey, but everywhere. He was the top prize for an entire calendar year, recruited by everyone nationally. His recruitment was in the spotlight from the minute it started and drew more attention than any other player in the country.
He knows he has pull moving forward and he says he’ll do as much as he can to help sway other top stars to Michigan moving forward. Signed players, of course, cannot publicly recruit prospective student-athletes.
But they can always chat in private.
As for the whole New Jersey-Michigan thing, Gary says he hopes to see the trend continue. Michigan signed five of the top 10 players in the state last season (Gary, Walker, Ahmir Mitchell, Ron Johnson and Brad Hawkins — Michigan also added defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour).
“Maybe it could be a trend, we’ll see with the 2017 class, but we’re just trying to get the best players,” Gary said. “We want to be, a couple years from now, to say ‘hey, Michigan’s going to go to the national championship. We’re in the discussion (every year).’
“Right now we’re building to that and we’re going to get there.”