Click photo to enlarge
Paramus Catholic High School defensive tackle Rashan Gary, a top high school football recruit, adjusts a Michigan hat during a school rally following his television announcement in which he declared he intends on playing college football at Michigan, on national signing day, Wednesday, in Paramus, N.J.

The biggest star of signing day for Michigan never even got a mention during Jim Harbaugh's over-the-top extravaganza.

Rashan Gary, the consensus No. 1 recruit in the country, announced Wednesday that he was going to play for the Wolverines. The defensive tackle from Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey went with the school that was considered the front-runner from the start, but he said on ESPN after making his decision that not until the last moments did he know for sure that Michigan was his pick.

"Feeling good. Lot of stress off me," he said.

Gary announced as Michigan's "Signing Day with the Stars" in Ann Arbor was winding down. The event included appearances by Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and pro wrestler Ric Flair. It was quite a show. But Michigan still couldn't say publicly that Gary was in the fold because it did not have a signed national letter of intent from him.

Gary made his announcement at ESPN's studios in Bristol, Connecticut, before taking a limousine back to Paramus to celebrate with his teammates. It was there he signed and sent off his letter to Michigan. At about 4:30 p.m. ET, Michigan tweeted out that Gary was a done deal.

"It's official! (hash)1 Overall. Rashan Gary."

Gary's former coach at Paramus Catholic, Chris Partridge, is the linebackers coach at Michigan. His former high school teammate, Jabrill Peppers, plays defensive back for the Wolverines. He is one of five high-profile recruits from New Jersey to be part of coach Jim Harbaugh's highly rated class.

That made Michigan seem like a lock, but it wasn't quite that.


Gary was also considering Clemson and Southeastern Conference schools such as Alabama, Mississippi and Auburn. His last official visit was to Clemson and the Tigers sent him and his mother home with a birthday cake shaped like a Tigers jersey for mom.

It wasn't enough. The 6-foot-5, 292-pound Gary is headed to Ann Arbor. He was a big get not just for Michigan but for the Big Ten. The last time a consensus No. 1 recruit signed somewhere other than the SEC was in 2008, when Terrell Pryor picked Ohio State.

Landing Gary locked up a top-10 class for Michigan and helped justify all the Harbaugh hype.