VOL. 131 | NO. 166 | Friday, August 19, 2016
The Press Box
Aggies DE Garrett: Talented And ‘Low Maintenance’
By Don Wade
He’s a first-team All-American, possibly could be the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and his head coach has called him “low maintenance.”
Perhaps the college football gods believe Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin had suffered enough, first with Johnny Manziel – a guy dubbed Johnny Football never qualifies as low-maintenance – and then with the Aggies’ infamous quarterback exodus.
So to balance all that there is 6-foot-5, 262-pound defensive end Myles Garrett, who last season led the SEC in QB sacks (12.5), tackles for loss (19.5 for 101 yards) and forced fumbles (5). Also, the guy who leads the Aggies in poems written about love, the reading of real books, and the avoidance of Twitter.
“So much drama, so many problems arise from social media,” Garrett said. “Getting off of it didn’t take no effort. It doesn’t take away from your day, it actually opens up more productive things for you do with your life instead of watching other people live their life or making problems. You can help solve instead of just watching from afar.”
Yes, this is why Sumlin says, “All he wants is his headphones and to know what time practice is, when to go to class, when meetings are and when game time is and, where’s the food? I wish I had 80 guys like that.”
Not that Garrett arrived on campus with the perfect mindset. There was a point his old high school coach in Arlington, Texas, had to tell him he needed to work harder. His older brother, Sean Williams, a first-round draft pick in the NBA some years ago and who was unable to stick in the league, also has stressed that Garrett needs to be about his business, be better than he was when he got his NBA chance.
But Garrett also had examples set before him from a young age that still impact him now.
“My dad’s a low-maintenance person,” he said. “My Gram’s a low-maintenance person. She didn’t need much. She worked hard. She was humble. She was sweet. I hope the values she’s given to me I can display to other people.”
Except, of course, when on the field and trying to do bad things to the other team’s quarterback. Garrett has spoken openly of wanting to get 20 sacks this season and of leaving A&M, whether it’s after his junior or senior year, as the best player in the program’s history.
None of this is spoken as a prediction and a boast, but as a goal – an attainable goal.
The arrival of John Chavis as defensive coordinator last year surely helped, but so did the presence of 6-6, 260 defensive lineman Daeshon Hall, who also ranked in the SEC Top 10 in QB sacks and tackles for loss and had four sacks in the opener vs. Arizona State.
“That changed the protection a little bit,” Sumlin said of Hall’s big day. “Got Myles back on track. Those two guys can be dominant players. And they’ve shown that in flashes, particularly on third down. If there’s something we need to get better at, it’s stopping the run.”
“Getting off the edge and run-defending,” Garrett said, “my coaches tell me I could be better at that.”
An even better Myles Garrett? Yes, Sumlin believes it’s possible.
He also laughs when telling of Garrett showing up for a plane flight to SEC Media Days in flip-flops and a Marvel comic book hat: “So that’s what we need to see out of our toughest guy on defense. He’s just a different guy. He beats to a different drum.”
Quarterback Trevor Knight’s favorite Myles Garrett moment so far? Walking into the weight room and finding him barefoot and power-cleaning more than 350 pounds.
“Easy,” Knight said.
As for Garrett, he doesn’t need to tweet his aspirations or even put them in a poem. He simply states his objective straight out, knowing he now has to walk the walk after talking the talk, starting with the opener Sept. 3 vs. No. 24 UCLA.
“I want to be the greatest who came here,” Garrett said.
Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” Tuesdays at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.