Freshman Earns Praise In His First AU Start

Linebacker Justin Garrett got a chance to start for the Auburn football Tigers in their victory over Samford.

Auburn, Ala.--With junior linebacker Jonathan Evans injured and held out of the game, true freshman Justin Garrett stepped off the sidelines for the first start of his college football in Auburn's 35–16 homecoming win over Samford.

Even though he was seeing the first significant and extended playing time of his career, Garrett said he wasn't nervous.

"I knew I was mentally prepared for the game and focused, determined," Garrett said. "It felt good to have the opportunity to go out there and start with my teammates."

The Tucker, Ga., native also stepped up, recording five tackles against Samford, one more than the four he had while seeing action in five previous games.

"He did a great job," said fellow linebacker Eltoro Freeman, who added five tackles of his own. "He was flying around making plays. He did a great job. We couldn't have a better backup."

Junior starting linebacker Daren Bates agreed, saying Garrett did a good job for the first game where he saw significant playing time. "He's young, so he's got a lot to work on, but for right now, he did pretty good," Bates said.

Garrett, who missed five games this season due to injury before returning to action against Ole Miss, said he felt like Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof had faith in him to do his assignments and perform well.

"He was making a lot of progress early and then he got hurt and missed a bunch of time, and has come back," Roof said. "I'm proud of him. I thought that he played well, and I think he's got the chance to be a really good football player before he's done here in this conference."

Garrett credited hard work in the film room, being prepared and remembering his assignments and alignments for his improvement since he arrived on the Plains.

The Tigers' defense, which allowed Samford running back Jeremiaha Gates to rack up 119 yards on the ground, will have its hands full with Heisman hopeful Trent Richardson coming to town.

"We've just got to get more mentally prepared and focused, get in the film room and study film and be prepared to play against Alabama," Garrett said.

Garrett and his Auburn teammates will square off against Alabama in the Iron Bowl, which is slated to kick off at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday.

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