The nation's top freshman will begin his college career at an unfamiliar position


Rashan Gary was the guy in the 2016 recruiting class. The 6-foot-5, 287-pound defensive lineman was ranked by multiple services as the top overall player in the country and, after a long recruiting war, Gary enrolled at the University of Michigan.

While Jim Harbaugh receives most of the recruiting attention in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines are blessed with two high-end recruiters in Tyrone Wheatley and defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who happens to be position coach that Gary will work with at Michigan. In advance of the 2016 season, Mattison hasn't been shy about indicating that Gary will play defensive end as a true freshman, and given that he was a dominant defensive tackle at the high school level, it will be an interesting transition for the 18-year-old.

This week, Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown backed up that theory, stating in plain terms that Gary will be playing on the outside in his debut campaign (via Nick Baumgardner of

"He's got to earn it like everybody else but we're excited about his potential, for sure. You'll see him at (defensive) end. We'd like to put him over those tight ends and see how many of those tight ends enjoy blocking him.

"Because that may be a treat to watch that happen."

Later, Brown expanded on what it will look like when Gary moves to defensive end:


"I think it's tougher (to start on the outside) because there's more jobs. There's more reactions. They have to deal with the zone-read, they've got to deal with arch schemes and trying to get kicked out by guards and pulling tight ends and some of the spread run stuff.

"But we'll get him his work. He'll be good."

Given the massive size and quickness that made Gary a prized recruit, it is easy to see how he would flourish on the outside. The picture of Gary rushing against tight ends is an amusing one for Michigan fans, but beyond that, the best pass rusher on the current roster for the Wolverines (Taco Charlton) enjoys a similar physical profile to Gary's and Michigan's defensive line as a whole may be the best and deepest in the country in 2016.

Because of that depth, Rashan Gary won't be counted on to dominate in a way that he may have been elsewhere, but that is likely good news for the true freshman. At some point in 2016, Gary will likely bull rush a tight end to the great enjoyment of Michigan fans and the Michigan staff, and everyone will nod knowingly as the nation's top true freshman comes into his own at a new spot.