WVU Gameday Blog

Speaking of Dustin Garrison …

If not for Wendell Smallwood, isn’t Garrison the best running back from the spring? If there is no No. 4, did No. 29 have the best spring for a skill position player? I might say yes, but only because of the two times I saw him and the one time a proxy relayed tales of Garrison’s performance in Charleston.

What we can agree on is that, not entirely unlike Logan Moore, most people probably didn’t see this coming.

There was Smallwood surging and Dreamius Smith returning and Rushel Shell debuting and, you know, finite snaps available. Again, not unlike quarterback. Throw in prodigal Andrew Buie and mix it all with the memories of Garrison jogging into the middle of the line two years ago and in street clothes most of last season and, well, it did not bode well.

Yet there he is. He’s not the starter but he’s not just another guy. (Not unlike the situation at quarterback. OK, I’ll stop that now. I trust you see the point.) JaJuan Seider said Garrison did everything he needed to do in the spring, which is pretty high praise from that guy.

Seider, as we know, has to manage a lot of players and he has to make room for another over the summer. He’s purposefully hard on his players and it can be hard to draw a deep compliment out of him. That’s his style, and it works, and that’s important because part of creating eventual separation includes creating initial balance. He’ll have his hands full this season.

Anyhow, back to Garrison: How has it happened? Physically, he’s fine. It would seem he’s also mentally reassured, and for two reasons.

1) Dana Holgorsen brought up the topic of a medical redshirt last season.

2) In doing so, Holgorsen told Garrison he shouldn’t have played in 2012 and should have taken a medical redshirt as he recovered from the ACL he tore days before the Orange Bowl.

That’s all useful. The first reminded Garrison he was not forgotten and that WVU did value his future. The second served as affirmation that the disappointment of the 2012 season was more about the knee than the skills, and that in a deeper backfield, he wouldn’t have been forced into action.

But life’s weird. Had he redshirted that season, he wouldn’t have been able to take one last season. And perhaps more  importantly, had he redshirted in 2012, he wouldn’t have played and learned to run differently, and almost out of necessity. Without that, he probably isn’t running as hard inside as he is now.

“I pushed my body to the limits, and it showed on the field,” he said. “I wasn’t as agile or as athletic as I felt like I should have been, but it helped me get prepared mentally for this. It helped me run a lot harder, like I do now, just going through that process being 60 percent 75 percent, and still trying to grind out three yards. I learned a lot throughout that season. I learned a lot about myself.”