Rashan Gary picks Michigan football: 'A day of excitement, a day of joy'

By The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 3, 2016 at 4:21 PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Denard Robinson was there as an NFL player and as a Michigan graduate. So was New York Yankees great Derek Jeter. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, too.

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, singer Mayer Hawthorne and WWE superstar Ric Flair were also in attendance -- to welcome the Michigan football program's incoming freshman class for 2016.

Michigan introduced its freshman class of 2016 in a unique, star-studded and unprecedented fashion: the "Signing of the Stars," Wednesday at Michigan's Hill Auditorium, produced in conjunction with The Players' Tribune, a new media outlet founded by Jeter.

"A day of excitement, a day of joy," Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "That's what we want this to be."

Or, as master of ceremonies and comedian Randy Sklar called it, "one big welcoming party." And Sklar made a joke about one of Harbaugh's more noted recruiting visits, a sleepover at a recruit's house.

"I was supposed to be at USC," Sklar said. "Harbaugh found out, slept over at my house. Climbed a tree, took his shirt off ... and he flipped me."

Michigan expects to have an incoming class of up to 29 scholarship signees, and two committed Wednesday morning, when Lavert Hill, a cornerback from Detroit's King High School, and Quinn Nordin, a kicker from Rockford, Mich., announced they would go to Michigan.

The big fish came towards the end of the signing day celebration, when Rashan Gary, the nation's top-rated recruit, announced on ESPN that he would attend Michigan.

"We got some really good news backstage," Harbaugh told the capacity crowd at Hill Auditorium.

Coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until after receipt of their national letters of intent, per NCAA rules. However, Harbaugh could not comment when asked if he had received Gary's national letter of intent after the signing show.

"We are so excited about all of our signees," Harbaugh said. "We are tremendously happy. From top to bottom, this recruiting class, the youngsters have a real heart for competing, a heart for football, they have football faces, they're competitive in the classroom and as we said before, they have worked so hard to put themselves in a position to be here."

None of the recruits in attendance expected that level of hype surrounding Wednesday's signing day extravaganza.

"I was not expecting this," said Brandon Peters, a quarterback from Avon, Ind. "When I stepped into the auditorium and kind of looked around at all the people, it was just kind of breathtaking. It's just an awesome experience."

Harbaugh also said when the Wolverines begin spring practices, they will spend a week at IMG Academy in Florida.

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