Haskell Garrett overcoming setbacks to dominate, live Ohio State dream

John Brice10 months
Haskelll Garrett 2 By Birm-Lettermen Row
Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett made an incredible return for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The Notre Dame offer brought tears to the eyes of Haskell Garrett.

The Ohio State offer brought an end to Garrett’s recruitment.

“I remember the day that Notre Dame called and they offered, he was crying,” said Kenny Sanchez, Garrett’s coach at national prep power Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. “He was so overwhelmed. That was one of his top schools. And after that it kept filling up.

“But as soon as Urban Meyer sunk his teeth into him, I think he forget about Notre Dame pretty fast. Once he was offered and visited, he pretty much committed right away.”

Now, Garrett’s settled in nicely to a key role along the Buckeyes defensive front from his tackle position. It’s what Sanchez saw six years ago as the sophomore Garrett helped lead Gorman to a national prep championship.

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Ohio State has got strong play from its defensive linemen like Haskell Garrett. (Courtesy/Ohio State Dept. of Athletics)

“It was just his athletic ability in practice, the way he moved for his size,” Sanchez said. “You just knew he was going to be a great football player. Sometimes when you have big kids, you have to build up to help them get strength and do footwork drills and things like that.

“Then you have guys like Haskell who have it already and you just have to not mess them up. That’s kind of the best way to say it.”

Garrett’s senior season in Columbus was almost permanently messed up before it ever started. The 6-foot-2, 299-pounder was shot in the face in late-August, an incident that left Garrett hospitalized and in need of surgery.

Eventually, Garrett underwent surgery to repair a wound that the Columbus Police Department report deemed a “through-and-through gunshot wound” through Garrett’s mouth. In his only session this fall with reporters, Garrett revealed that he had been placed largely on a liquid diet and awaited the replacement of five missing teeth.

Still, the Vermont native and one-time Hawaii resident Garrett has seized upon a second chance.

“Just had to undergo a serious of surgeries on my mouth and I had to get a bone-graft in my mouth,” Garrett, who had two tackles and a sack in the Buckeyes’ season-opening win against Nebraska, said. “After post-surgery, I couldn’t do anything physically but I could do stuff mentally. Just being prepared and when I came back, be ready to do anything and everything to help the team.”

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Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett made his impact felt for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Sanchez was surprised by none of Garrett’s determination to remain a key cog in the defense of the third-ranked Buckeyes, who saw their scheduled game Saturday at Maryland cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Terps’ football program.

“He played some tight end, some fullback, different things for us,” Sanchez said. “We had packages where he could go and do those things because of his athletic ability.

“We didn’t want him on both sides of the ball all game long, but we could run a pass out of the backfield for him and do some other things.”

Despite an unblemished, 43-0 ledger during Garrett’s time in his Bishop Gorman program, Sanchez chose not to focus on any singular play or contest but rather the impact that Garrett had upon both the program and the school.

“The one thing that would come to mind is just respect,” Sanchez said. “Respect for his teachers, respect that they had for him, and I don’t really remember the football stuff as much.

“It’s kind of like when I played, you don’t remember certain plays or games, but you remember relationships and locker rooms; he’s one of those guys that reminded me of that. His attitude, personality, so easygoing, and he’s always come back to school after college. He’s just an old soul, a really respectful human being.”