Bay Port football star Isaiah Gash commits to Michigan
SUAMICO - When it came to his recruitment, Bay Port star running back Isaiah Gash has no problem saying it: He’s going to college with a chip on his shoulder.
Gash announced Monday afternoon that he has accepted a preferred walk-on offer at the University of Michigan, picking the Wolverines over a similar offer from Michigan State along with scholarship offers from NCAA Division II schools.
It’s a homecoming for Gash, who grew up about 30 miles from Ann Arbor and lived there for seven years.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior already is a dedicated worker, traits he displayed in becoming one of the best at his position in the state and ending his career as Bay Port’s all-time leading rusher with almost 4,500 yards.
But Division I schools never called with offers. It’s going to be the biggest challenge of his life at Michigan, but if he has anything to say about it, he’s going to make a lot of other teams regret not coming after him.
“I definitely agree with the term, ‘Chip on my shoulder,’” Gash said. “I feel like I was underrecruited a little bit. So, it is nice to get the chance to show everyone wrong. I’m the last person on the depth chart right now for Michigan, but just being able to prove to everyone that I am a Division I caliber player and you overlooked me if you didn’t look at me at all.”
Gash visited Michigan and Michigan State last weekend.
As the only running back recruit at Michigan, he met most of the coaching staff and spent a good amount of time talking with head coach Jim Harbaugh and his son, Jay, who serves as the running backs coach.
They talked about what his plans were, and he knows he’s going to have to play a lot of special teams to prove himself.
“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders,” Gash said. “I was kind of a late recruiter. I didn’t get my preferred walk-ons from Michigan and Michigan State until about last month, so just knowing where I’m going to go is big.”
The situation for any potential recruit at MSU got more interesting after longtime coach Mark Dantonio stepped down Feb. 4 after 13 seasons.
Before making his visits, Gash was leaning toward playing for the Spartans. They are a developing team with a clearer path to potential playing time for a running back, but once he went to Michigan, he felt that was the place for him.
But how much, if any, did the Dantonio situation play a part in the choice?
Gash was quick and to the point.
“I mean, yeah, it would have been a lot more difficult than if I was with Michigan,” he said.
The Wolverines are getting a dynamic player in Gash, who was the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association large-school offensive player of the year in 2019.
Gash missed the first two games of the season with an injury but still rushed for 1,916 yards and 30 touchdowns while averaging 9 yards per carry.
He was dominant in the postseason, rushing for 1,004 yards and 12 TDs in five contests. Gash rushed 32 times for 185 yards in the WIAA Division 1 state title game against Muskego.
Bay Port coach Gary Westerman talked often about Gash’s work ethic and his character throughout the season. Both are off the charts.
“I’m really excited for him, he’s a great kid,” Westerman said. “Great student-athlete. It’s going to be an unbelievable opportunity to play football at the highest level.
“He has earned the opportunity. Looking forward to being able to watch him play.”
When asked how he will prepare this offseason for the rigors of college football and if he will attempt to put some additional muscle on his frame, Gash wasn’t yet ready to put a wrap on his high school career.
He still has unfinished business in track and field, where he qualified for the D1 state meet as a junior in the long jump and triple jump and as part of the 400-relay team.
“Right now, it’s almost track season,” Gash said. “I’m focused on being fast right now.”