Freshpectations for 2016: Defensive Line

Out of all of the Freshpectation posts, this is the one I was most looking forward to putting together. And for one very obvious reason: Mr. Rashan Gary.

Gary was the #1 player in the 2016 class and is the highest rated recruit that Michigan has ever signed. Add in the need at his position with the departure of Willie Henry and projecting his freshmen year is a fun thing to do. On top of his addition, UM signed two other New Jersey lineman that should really make an impact throughout their careers.

The defensive line haul for Michigan includes Gary, Ron Johnson and Michael Dwumfour.


MGoFish Scouting Report

Being the unanimous #1 recruit on every top recruiting site has never been donebefore but Gary did just that in the 2016 cycle. On top of that, he’s raked in several awards along his high school career, including The American Family Insurance All-USA Defensive Player of the Year and the Under Armour All-American Game MVP. And those accolades were well deserved.

Gary has been referred to by multiple recruiting analysts as the best defensive lineman prospect they’ve ever seen and a guy that could come in from day one and be a star. When you look at his tape and his performance in the Under Armour game, you can see what the analysts and scouts were talking about. His elite mix of size, power, athleticism, drive and instincts are unmatched in this class and something I haven’t seen out of a high school player since I started covering Michigan recruiting.’s (via Brian Dohn) Scouting Report

Gary is a mix of power, speed, athleticism and explosion. He has great speed and his ability to chase a play down are exceptional. He ran a 4.74 in the 40-yard dash at The Opening in July, and he plays fast. He can use his strength to overpower an offensive lineman, he has a tremendous change of direction and his explosion is off the charts

247Sports’ (via Steve Lorenz) Scouting Report

Gary is the No. 1 prospect in the country for multiple reasons. First, he has a simple size and speed combination that is unmatched by almost any high school prospect going back at least five or ten years. He excelled at an elite level in both the camp and in-game settings, and was exceptionally dominant in the Under Armour All-American game in January, an event attended by many of the nation’s top prospects. Another one of his biggest attributes is his versatility. Every program recruiting him, including Michigan, will use him at both end and on the interior of the defensive line. He is a five-star level prospect at the 5-tech, 3-tech or even nose tackle, and will be used by his new coaching staff as such. I personally believe his best asset is his speed, as he ran a laser-timed 4.78 at 286 lbs. right before his senior season. That’s amazing for a 17 year-old. He’ll get around you on the edge, or run you over. He’s a true difference maker that would see the field next season for any program in the country.’s (via Tim Sullivan) Scouting Report

What can’t Gary do? Return punts, maybe, but just about everything you want out of a defensive lineman, he not only does, but does well.

Gary has the mass to play on the interior of the defensive line, but the quickness to play on the edge. Any of the positions up front could be considered right within his wheelhouse.

Gary is a naturally strong player, but still has the ability to get even stronger at the next level. In a college weight training program, his already-impressive physique will be taken to the next level. He can dominate offensive linemen who line up across from him, and escort them back to the quarterback or simply discard them off to the side.

He’s also extremely quick, able to split double-teams by beating offensive linemen off the ball. He can provide pass-rush from the interior because he’s quicker than guards. He can use his quickness and speed to get around the edge.

Gary is also a technically sound player, more so than most young defensive linemen. His footwork and hand technique are exceptional, and will only get better in a college program.


MGoFish Scouting Report

Johnson is a high motor, physical lineman that has a nice blend of length and athleticism that could see him lineup all over the defensive line during his career. That versatility was a question mark for awhile but it’s actually why I believe he could be a really nice fit in Don Brown’s defense as a pass rushing specialist.’s (via Brian Dohn) Scouting Report

Johnson has an excellent motor and also plenty of athleticism. He gets up the field in a hurry, but also uses technique, including a nice swim move. He stays low at the snap and can dip his shoulder to get around the edge, and also can chase a play down from behind. He needs to work a bit on his change of direction, which is good for a kid his size. His speed off the edge is why colleges like him a lot.’s (via Tim Sullivan & Doug Skrene) Scouting Report

Speed off the edge of a defensive line is a requirement for successful defenses. Defensive Ends must be strong enough to take on massive offensive tackles and fast enough to get up field and to the quarterback. Johnson has the frame and athletic skills to be an effective DE. He’s going to have to learn to play the position reading keys and with refined technique. I know he is an excellent pass rusher but now every down is 3rd and long. His greatest challenge is going to be getting strong enough and stout enough to take on a bigger offensive lineman square up and hold his ground. With time, strength training, and line coach Greg Mattison’s teaching, Johnson has all the tools to be a great defensive end for Michigan.



MGoFish Scouting Report

Dwumfour jumps off the screen on his highlight tape and reminds me a ton of former Michigan DT Willie Henry. He has the size, athleticism, nastiness and quick twitch that would fit perfectly at multiple positions along the defensive line. Though he’s a little raw, those natural traits will give him a chance to become a big time player for Michigan during his career.’s (via Brian Dohn) Scouting Report

Dwumfour disengages well and he is quick with his hands. He has explosion, but has a tendency to stand up quickly before accelerating forward. Once he explodes forward at the snap, he will become even more effective. Dwumfour has good strength and he plays with a low center of gravity, and he keeps his pad level low. He changes direction well and can make plays in space. At 6-foot-1, some schools make be hesitant to offer’s (via Tim Sullivan) Scouting Report

Dwumfour is listed as a strongside defensive end, but tipping the scales at 282 pounds in high school (with an upper body that has plenty of room to fill out), and with a strong base, he has the potential to move inside at the next level and serve as a defensive tackle. His natural strength is a good fit for the nose tackle position.

Dwumfour has good quickness, but it doesn’t set him apart among defensive end prospects, whereas it will be a huge asset on the interior. He can provide some pass-rush from the middle while serving as an anchor.

Dwumfour has been well-coached in high school, and has a solid understanding of how to use his hands and how to set up offensive linemen for his pass-rush moves. He’ll have to continue building on that repertoire to succeed at the next level (and learn some of the differences playing almost exclusively on the inside), but has the knowledge to grow his own skillset.


Michigan’s 2016 Depth Chart Prediction

Defensive End/Tackle

  1. #43 Chris Wormley, 5th 
  2. #3 Rashan Gary, FR
  3. #99 Matt Godin, 5th 
  4. Michael Dwumfour, FR

Nose Tackle

  1. #90 Bryan Mone, JR*
  2. #96 Ryan Glasgow, 5th 
  3. #73 Maurice Hurst, SR* 

Defensive End

  1. #33 Taco Charlton, SR 
  2. #93 Lawrence Marshall, JR*
  3. #8 Shelton Johnson, SO* 
  4. Ron Johnson, FR

Freshmen Year Expectations

Michigan’s defensive line was one of the best in the B1G in 2015 and should be one of the best, if not the best, in the nation in 2016 thanks to the returning veterans and incoming talent.

  • Gary is an elite talent and, even though he’s not an early enrollee, he should see the field right away. I don’t believe he’ll start right off the bat thanks to the talent in front of him but by the time B1G play rolls around, I believe he’ll be starting in the 4-3 front. As for his season long expectations, he should rack up a good amount of sacks and TFLs which should put him on just about every Freshmen All American squad.
  • Both Johnson and Dwumfour need to add some more weight/size to his frame to really be forces in college. And thanks to the talent in front of them, I expect both to redshirt and spend the year hitting the weight room to be ready to fully contribute in 2017.

What are your freshpectations for Michigan’s incoming defensive line signees? Add your thoughts below in the comment section! 

Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/USA TODAY Sports