Rashan Gary Received Racist Voicemail from Man Alleging to Be Clemson Fan

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIApril 17, 2016

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, Feb. 3, 2016, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Star defensive lineman Rashan Gary was a highly coveted recruit before he committed to Michigan, and a day prior to his official visit to Clemson, he was the target of a racist voicemail from a supposed Tigers fan.

Darren Cooper of the Record reported Sunday on the disturbing call intended for Gary, which was left at his high school's athletic department Jan. 28, including what the fan said to Gary:

Yes, this here is "Clemson Dan," and this message is for Mr. Rashan Gary. We just wantin' to know if you're coming down here for a visit, you better be serious about it, 'cause there's only two things we love and that's Clemson football and the KKK.

So you better not be fooling around, if you're gonna get a visit, you better be committin'.

So, just be aware, this ain't no fooling thing. We Clemson. We big-time football down here.

We don't take no losers, no stragglers, no lazies, no dumb people...so if you're coming down here, you gotta do just like the KKK and be serious about your football.

So if you're coming down here, you better be serious. All right Rashan Gary, you better be the real deal. Over and out, this is "Clemson Dan" saying goodbye.

Gary is from Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey and is 247Sports' top-ranked prospect in the 2016 class.

The Paramus Police Department is conducting an investigation into the situation and has issued search warrants to the phone company in an effort to find the phone number, which didn't appear in Paramus Catholic's caller ID system.

Paramus Catholic school president Jim Vail said he tried to contact Gary and his mother, Jennifer Coney, once he heard about the message.

Though he was unable to reach Gary and Coney, whose phones were turned off, Vail did get in touch with Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables in an effort to guarantee Gary's safety before his visit.

Clemson assistant athletic director for communications Joe Galbraith said, per Cooper, that Venables told football administrators and the recruiting office about the phone call "immediately." The athletics compliance office and Clemson police were then notified.

When Gary arrived for his visit, Coney played the voicemail for the Tigers football program representatives with whom she and her son were meeting.

"I took the time to let everybody listen to the voicemail," said Coney, per Cooper. "And I'm telling you, everybody appeared shocked. They appeared distraught, like this is unbelievable."

Coney also said that although the unnerving phone call didn't impact Gary's decision, she didn't like that Clemson officials knew about the voicemail but didn't mention it until she played it for them:

That disturbed me. I kept talking about it, like who is this "Clemson Dan?" They didn't seem too concerned about it. They kind of chuckled it off, after their initial shock.

I think what just kind of got me was you knew, and they should have let me know that they knew.

[...]

It didn't turn Rashan off of Clemson. Remember, Rashan is a kid, and he thinks he's invincible and nothing affects him. He loved Clemson and so did I.

I just think that he felt overall—not just as a football player—[Michigan] would be the place where he'd benefit the most from going to school.

Gary would have been a big asset for the Tigers, who lost likely 2016 first-round NFL draft picks Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd from last year's team.

Instead, the 5-star phenom will head to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to begin his college career as part of a resurgent Wolverines program led by head coach Jim Harbaugh. Michigan ranked fourth in total defense last season, per NCAA.com, and with a blue-chip talent like Gary to play in the trenches, it stands to become even better in 2016 and beyond.

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