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Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett had one whale of a year in 2021, even if abbreviated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was even more impressive when you consider that Garrett did so after somehow recovering from a gunshot wound to the face after trying to break up a fight in the wee hours of the morning near the campus of Ohio State in the offseason.
It was the type of breakout year that put him in the middle of the radar screen for many NFL scouts and executives as a potentially high-round draft pick. Garrett made himself a household name and was in a position to realize a lifelong dream of playing on Sundays.
But, that’s not how it went. Instead of doing what everyone thought and declaring for the 2021 NFL draft, Garrett surprised a lot of folks by taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility afforded players by the NCAA because of the pandemic and decided to return to the Buckeyes.
But why? Certainly, some guys love the college game and all that it offers them, especially in a year that was so scattered and pulled back because of the novel coronavirus. According to Garrett though, it was some of that, but it was more, and it had everything to do with the environment in Columbus.
“I came back for the brotherhood,” Garrett told reporters on Tuesday. “I felt that there was more I could do as a leader. When you go to the league it’s all about business. I didn’t want to leave because a place like Ohio State is special.”
Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett celebrates after batting a pass and catching it for a touchdown during the second quarter. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
You constantly hear things like this from players that have played on the banks of the Olentangy. Even the ones that do leave early and chase their dreams in the NFL. Almost to a man, they all miss the camaraderie and fun of the college game and the family atmosphere at Ohio State.
This year, Garrett is on the shortlist of best defensive linemen in the country. He’s landed on several preseason watchlists and All-American teams. And if he can improve as he did without a full offseason last year, the sky is the limit in 2021. Especially if he has his brothers supporting and pushing him along the way.