Commentary

Josh Garnett full of surprises

O-lineman with surprising nasty streak becomes first UA All-American from Washington

Originally Published: October 31, 2011
By Greg Biggins | ESPN Recruiting Nation

The state of Washington has produced some great players over the years but in five years of putting on the Under Armour All-American game, there had yet to be a player selected from the Evergreen State.

That all changed on Friday when the American Family Insurance Tour hit Puyallup, wash., and presented offensive lineman Josh Garnett with his jersey to participate in the prestigious game January 5.

"I definitely didn't make it here on my own," Garnett said following the announcement. "I've had a great supporting cast including great coaches, great teammates and great parents, who have been role models for me for as long as I can remember.

"I put in a lot of hard work to get to this point. I spent a lot of time in the weight room getting bigger and stronger and I'm incredibly honored to share this opportunity with some of the great lineman I've met throughout the country. This is an opportunity to prove my merit on a national stage and I'm honored to represent Puyallup as well as all the other great players who have played in this game before me."

Garnett is not only one of the best offensive lineman in the country but one of the most versatile as well. He plays tackle for Puyallup but is being recruited equally as hard at guard and said he has no preference between the two.

"It's probably 50-50 right now," Garnett said. "I really don't have a preference, I'll play wherever I'm needed. I'm used to tackle but I think I could play guard as well so whatever gets me on the field the fastest. I still have a huge list of schools and haven't set up any of my trips yet.

"Out of my region, I like Nebraska, Auburn , Miami and Michigan and closer to home, I'm looking at Stanford, Washington, Cal, UCLA, Oregon and USC. I'll use my official visits for the schools out of the area and then do some unofficial visits to the local schools. Right now, I really don't have a leader, I'm looking for the best fit athletically and academically and I'll probably decide sometime in January or closer to signing day."

Garnett's father, Scott, played football for the University of Washington and spent three years in the NFL and it didn't long for the young lineman to prove he was a legitimate BCS level talent as well. He camped with the Huskies and UCLA following his freshman year and both schools offered scholarships.

"It was pretty easy to see early on that he was a special player," Puyallup coach Gary Jeffers said. "I still never saw him becoming this good, where people are talking about him as the best lineman in the country. He's the best player I've ever been around and is a man among boys at this level."

Off the field, Garnett is a self-described introvert and very comfortable letting others grab the spotlight. He's a 4.0 student who was recently accepted in to Stanford, and an absolute gentleman in all areas.

Something changes when the lights go on and the mild-mannered Garnett flips the switch and turns in to an absolute monster. He admittedly loves the physical side of the game and isn't content to simply block his man but would prefer to drive them in to the ground or completely out of bounds.

"I think people are surprised that I have such a nasty streak on the field," Garnett said. "I'm soft spoken off the field so they probably assume I'll be nice out there, maybe knock someone over and then help them up but that's not me.

"I always say this, when you're on the football field, for that two hours, you're legally allowed to beat the crap out of someone. Every play is the same, you can basically do whatever you want, within the rules, and there is no more satisfying feeling than when you look at the player across from you, and you can tell they don't want any more. Sometimes it happens as soon as the first quarter, other times in the second half but eventually, I feel like I'm going to wear you out and I love that about this game."

Greg Biggins covers recruiting in the West region. He can be reached at Greg.Biggins@espn.com.