There’s a big difference between Rashan Gary’s preparation for the Michigan football team’s last road game and its upcoming one.
Three weeks ago as the Wolverines got set to face Michigan State, Gary was questionable to play with a shoulder injury that he suffered before the season began. It had kept him out of the three games before.
On Tuesday, Gary thought back on that time.
“I really wanted to come back Michigan State, but I personally wasn’t ready,” Gary said. “… With my range, I felt that I could do a little bit, but you know, throughout the week, it wasn’t where I think I could come out and give my team 100 percent.”
Heading into Michigan’s game against Rutgers, Gary says his health isn’t an issue.
Gary played in the Wolverines’ win over Penn State on Saturday, albeit on a limited snap count. He finished with two tackles and made his typical impact on the plays he was in.
Gary said it gave him chills stepping back on the Michigan Stadium turf with his teammates after his hiatus.
“I’m like, ‘Yeah, I missed y’all. I love y’all,’ ” Gary said. “… It felt good putting the pads on somebody else.”
It was an odd time away for Gary.
By nature of the way the Wolverines handle injury news — they hardly divulge any information — speculation surrounded Gary.
Some said he was more injured than Michigan was leading on. Some thought Gary would go the route of Nick Bosa and sit out before declaring for the NFL Draft. Gary’s mom added fuel to the fire by posting cryptic Facebook statuses.
Gary says he wasn’t perturbed by any of this. He said he never considered skipping the rest of his games at all and that he tried to stay away from the speculation.
“I’m the only person that knows what’s going on,” Gary said. “You know, I’m the only one that can really tell you the real story about it. So, you know, having my mom speak out on it, that’s what she did. You know, that’s my mom, so I always support her and what she feels, but also, you know, things like that, I can’t let that get me mad. I’ve still got things to do. I’ve still got goals to accomplish, and I just need to get back to them.”
The rumors were even stranger because Gary wasn’t really missed that much by the Wolverines’ defense.
His backup, sophomore defensive end Kwity Paye, was more than solid in Gary’s absence, while junior defensive end Josh Uche made a major statement — he is now 12th in the country in sacks.
Again, Gary claims not be bothered by this, rather giving positive reviews of his underlings.
“That’s something I’ve been seeing since spring ball and camp,” Gary said. “You know, just now that they got the opportunity to show off and showcase their talents, it’s crazy. You know, every time Uche goes in, I’m expecting him to get a sack. Every time Kwity goes in, I’m expecting him to hold it down and get a tackle, be an impact. And that’s the ability that they have and that’s what they’ve been showing. I feel like, with me not playing, they did a great job coming in and stepping up and providing for the team in the ways that we needed.”
Perhaps that makes Gary’s return all the more impactful.
Michigan’s defensive line, which was dominating teams without Gary, has now returned a potential first-round draft pick.