QB Leaves UM Very Impressed

Daytona Beach Mainland quarterback Jonathan Garner was a little unsure about which camps he'd attend this summer. However, that changed on the final day college coaches could contact players this spring.

"On the last day in May, Coach Werner from Miami called and told me how they're real interested in me," Garner said. "I was a little surprised. He told me they're considering offering me a scholarship and that if I came to camp the odds of that happening would go way up."

Garner went to the camp with a couple of his younger teammates. After spending a lot of time there, he left very impressed.

"I had a lot of fun," he said. "There was a lot of talent on the field those three days. The amount of quality receivers made it real easy for us quarterbacks to throw the ball. And on the otherhand, there were a lot of quality defensive backs that really provided us with a challenge."

Garner, 6-4 and 210 pounds, talked about some of his favorite targets at the camp.

"There were two receivers that really stood out to me," he said. "(Jessie Hester) was really fast. They both were. There were two tight ends there. One is a kid they were calling Shockey. He was huge, ran nice routes, and had good hands. On defense, there was a guy named (Myron) Rolle who was a really good DB. He was real physical. Another kid, who was playing safety, had eight or nine picks. He broke on balls really well."

The talented quarterback was considered by many others at the camp to be the best player at his position. However, since he left a session early and wasn't there for the awards ceremony, he left without the QB MVP Award. Garner says that doesn't bother him because he feels he could have performed better.

"I actually caught a bug on the way down to Miami," he said. "We didn't leave until Saturday morning. The van we were going in didn't have air conditioning. I got sick. The t-shirt I was wearing on the way down turned into a cloth. And when we pulled up to the camp, they were just starting to do some of the testing. I feel I could have done a lot better."

Still, Garner said he was glad to have had the opportunity to work with Werner.

"He's a great quarterbacks coach," he said. "He told me after the camp that the next quarterback they offer will likely be me. It could happen as soon as today or it could happen sometime during the season. I'm just glad they're interested in me like that."

The talented southpaw, who carries a 4.2 GPA and an 1120 SAT score, helped lead Mainland to a state championship last season. His career didn't start as a quarterback, however.

"I remember back in sixth grade when I first started playing, I was a little chubby so I played tight end," he laughed. "Then when I went to a new middle school and hit a growth spurt, I started playing quarterback in seventh. Then when I got to Mainland, I have started ever since my freshman year. It's been great."

Garner, who will soon become Mainland coach John Moronto's first ever four-year starter at quarterback, threw just three interceptions last season, including none in the playoffs.

"I think one thing that sets me apart from other quarterbacks is my decision-making skills," he said. "Last summer I wanted to reduce the number of interceptions I threw so I really started making it a habit to do over different reads and coverages. Now I'm always going over them in my mind."

Garner, who has a tremendous football mind, has seven written scholarships with No. 8 on its way.

"Stanford, Memphis, Ole Miss, Louisville, East Carolina, UConn, and South Florida have offered me so far," he said. "The coach from Marshall said that's on the way soon too."

Garner said he's wide open with the recruiting process but he'd love to add UM as an option.

"I had a great time at Miami," he said. "I really enjoyed working with the coaches. Coach Soldinger is a lot like my dad. They're exactly like and my dad loves him. I'm very impressed by Miami right now."

One of the potential problems UM may face when recruiting quarterbacks this year is being able to convince them to come in and compete with Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman. Garner was asked that.

"I know Miami has some good young quarterbacks but if I were to get offered by them and decided to go there, I know the opportunities that I will have," he said. "Even if you only start a year or two, you still get to play for a national title every year. You still get all kinds of exposure. You still get to play with some of the nation's best athletes. I'm all about competing so it wouldn't bother me at all."

Garner, who also camped at Ole Miss this summer, plans on attending camps at Stanford and LSU next month.

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