Garee redshirted his first year, but earned the Lee Willard Award for best freshman, as he impressed on the scout team during the fall of 2001. The next season, he played four games on defense. Last season, as a redshirt sophomore, Garee cracked the starting lineup vs. Baylor and never left.
In 2003, Garee had seven tackles for loss, and four sacks. Those numbers could rise, as this season, Garee will be expected to continue the steady improvement he's made as a player each year. You could say Garee is right on schedule.
At nearly 270 pounds, Garee is by far the biggest defensive end on the roster. A preseason practice schedule that is more spread out and includes fewer two-a-days could help Garee keep that weight.
"I'm right about 270," he said Thursday. "I'd like to play at 270. That's one of the things I like about this laid back camp schedule is I shouldn't lose too much weight. It used to be that I'd lose 5 or 6 pounds that I'd never see again after camp. But this year, I should be able to keep it on."
The junior is also sporting some new ink this August. On Garee's left upper arm is a well-detailed tattoo of a Buffalo head he got just before camp began. On his left shoulder and upper arm is a tattoo in progress, a bright red, yellow and orange flame with the letters J.J.G. placed in the middle. The letters are Garee's father's initials.
Garee is having the tattoo done to honor the courage his dad showed after he was diagnosed with cancer last year. Thankfully, Garee Sr. has recovered.
"He went from a hospital bed to working eight hour days again," Garee Jr. reports.
With his dad's recovery, Garee's thoughts have been focused on the Buffs. He's positive heading into the meat of preseason practices.
"I'm really excited about our D-line," he said. "I think we have a real strong D-line and we have a chance to be better than we've been in a long time."
Asked if the unit has found a new emphasis under new defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz's watch, Garee said, "Right now we're playing smarter defense. Everybody knows what the other person is doing; you know where your help is and you're not just worried about the way you're playing. You know what you're doing affects the person next to you."
Behind Garee at rush end is true freshman Alonzo Barrett, listed at 6-3, 240 pounds. Barrett was moved to the position from the other defensive end after Chadd Evans left the team during the offseason.
Barrett is a player that will likely see the field in 2004. But Buff fans are as yet unfamiliar with him, so Garee gave BSN a thumbnail scouting report.
"He's a fast guy," Garee said. "He's got a great motor. He's one of those guys who you'll see in practice just chasing guys all the way across the field. Even if he doesn't have the chance to make the play he's still running after the ball. That's just the kind of guy we want on our defense. He'll get some playing time because of that."
Garee also had praise for the players he faces each day in practice, the members of the offensive line.
"They look real strong," Garee said. "I don't think we've had as good of tackles since we had Victor Rogers. They've really stepped up since last season."