Justin Gardner was considered a bit of a sleeper in the class, hailing from Shiloh High School in Snellville, Georgia. Rated a 2* cornerback, Gardner is still relatively new to competitive football, having only played a couple seasons of high school football. As released by OSUBeavers.com, he checks in at nearly 6’2” and 170 pounds, an ideal frame for a corner. Despite his team finishing with a 2-8 record this past fall, Gardner received All-County and Atlanta Journal Constitution All-Region selections.
LEAD OSU RECRUITER:
Derrick Odum – Primary/Area (Prior to leaving for San Jose State DC Position)
John Rushing – Position
Cory Hall – Position
Telly Lockette -- Area
Gardner caught the eye of the Beavers coaching staff while at a camp in Georgia back on June 12th and his standout performance earned him an offer on the spot, his first at the time. He then quickly garnered 4 other offers in the following week before committing to the Beavers on the 21st. He pledged to OSU over offers from Mercer, Fresno State, Georgia State and Miami of Ohio. Despite being committed to OSU, it didn’t keep other teams from continuing to recruit Gardner including Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, and down the stretch Georgia became involved. As signing day neared, Gardner had become a hot commodity. The OSU staff made frequent visits to the small town outside of Atlanta and Gardner rewarded their hard work by honoring his initial pledge and signing with Oregon State.
WHY OREGON STATE:
As told to OSUBeavers.com, “The coaching staff feels like family and I know they are going to push me to my ability.”
A natural athlete, long armed with above average speed… Gardner could play either corner or safety at the collegiate level, but I think is best suited as a true cover corner… Either way, he will need to add weight and muscle before he is ready to contribute physically… Would probably be best suited for a redshirt season and possibly an additional season before he is acclimated to the speed of the college game. Good ball skills and change of direction, loose hips… Will need to continue to work on technique as well as physicality and tackling.
INSIDE THE COMMITMENT:
Prior to last summer’s camp circuit, Gardner was a true sleeper having not garnered much attention from programs. That changed when the Beavers offered, and a slew of other programs followed suit. Even after having committed to the Beavers, it did not deter other Power-5 programs from trying to get involved with the growing cornerback. Gardner actually took a visit to Pitt last fall for their rivalry game against Penn State, but followed that up in October with his official visit to OSU, which all but sealed his commitment.