METAIRIE - Archbishop Rummel offensive lineman Garett Wibel (6-4, 300) started getting calls from big-time college programs around last Christmas, as he remembers. Calls and letters came from the likes of Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia Tech and Texas to name a few. Defensive line coach Pete Jenkins visited him about two months ago, but Garett had the flu and couldn't talk much.
He was one of many seniors-to-be on campus with LSU head coach Nick Saban on Feb. 24, but unlike the rest of the group, he wasn't at the LSU-Mississippi State men's basketball game that night. By then, he was heading back home to enjoy Mardi Gras festivities.
At noon, he met with offensive line coach George Yarno, who told Garett he couldn't get over the film he'd watched. In the middle of the meeting, Saban led Garett to his office. He told Garett about the importance of having an education and the positive reasons to stay in state. Then he made an offer Garett couldn't — and didn't — refuse.
"Coach Saban told me I could commit right now or I could wait, that there wasn't any pressure," Garett says. "But I committed right then and there. I always wanted to be a Tiger."
It is the first and only scholarship offer Garett had received. And it was the only one he really wanted.
Back in New Orleans, Garett's mother, Bonnie, was in a limo, stuck in the bumper-to-bumper disaster that is Mardi Gras weekend. That's where she learned her son finished the yearlong recruiting process almost before it began, verbally pledging to the state's flagship university.
"Our whole family, we've been Tiger fans since I can remember," Bonnie says. "That was the most unbelievable moment, to see that your son has really been appreciated. ... I was so happy, but I was crying my eyes out."
His father, Mike — a member of the band The Nobles, which was inducted into the Louisiana Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in '98 — didn't get the news until 6 o'clock, as he was preparing to play as an opening act in the Endymion event inside the Superdome.
"Here I am about to play in front 25,000 people," Mike laughs. "My nerves are shot already. Then she tells me that Garett committed. I tell you what, though, I played stuff I never played before."
Garett says he has a 2.93 overall grade-point average and just recently took the SAT for the first time. He also moonlights as a private DJ, enjoys history and politics and has thought about majoring in electrical engineering.