Jeremiah Garrison - Confident, Ready, Sure

What started as one of the more solid and experienced positions for the young Gamecocks this season, quickly turned questionable with injuries to Lance Laury and Ricardo Hurley, two linebackers that had been penciled in by more than a few as starters. Yet few realize that Jeremiah Garrison was always the starter - the other stuff never mattered ...

This is going to be Jeremiah Garrison's season. Mark my words.

Gamecock fans looking for defensive action would be wise to watch #33 today. Jeremiah Garrison has been waiting for this day, his senior season and his chance to shine above all others.

"I remember that first day we talked Mr. Perry," Garrison began. "I was a freshman and I sort of looked up to Kenny Harney back then. He was from a high school not far from mine remember? We talked about how I needed to gain as much weight as him but keep my speed at the same time."

Thinking back it seemed like only a few months ago that Jeremiah Garrison was a little known 6-1 195 pound linebacker/running back prospect out of Belton Honea-Path who had been wowing local crowds in the upstate since his early Pop Warner days. Today the gun sounds for his swan song senior season.

As of 2003 Garrison has done much of what he wanted to do. He's gained weight, gotten stronger and kept most of that mystic Garrison speed that few realize he possesses. But there have been bumps and bruises along the way. An injury or two that at times has prompted Lou Holtz to question Jeremiah's toughness.

"I don't worry about those things," Jeremiah offered. "I know where he is coming from and I understand him these days so I don't let that sort of thing bother me. I know what I can do and I just go out and do it."

Garrison has been through the wars with the Gamecocks - a team he never imagined himself playing for as a youngster.

"I was a Clemson fan. I was practically in their backyard. So that's who I always thought I would be playing for right now. I am thankful that it worked out the way it did. I am glad and proud that I am a Gamecock these days."

Recently however, there have been times ....

::: laughing :::: "Yeah, I mean there was more fatigue for all of us this Summer during workouts than in the past. The first couple of days out there when practice started I almost died."

And are you ready now?

"Oh yes. Listen, once we got used to the new schedule and got over the fatigue and past the injuries it was better. You see it took us a few days to get back in the swing of things, get our fundementals back down, and then start concentrating on taking the next step ... we're there now. We got there a couple of weeks ago. We're ready."

What's the difference between this team and the teams that were here when you first arrived - Coach Holtz's first couple of squads?

"Better ones. Our ones are better or at least there are more of them. We had some good players when I first got here but they were skattered around. No, you know what? What's really different is the twos. The twos on this team are really good you know what I am saying? The 2s have been quite this good around here that I can remember so I guess you could say it is all about depth with this team finally."

'Jay Gee', as he is known to his teammates and close friends, is proud of the progress both he and the football program have made. It shows heading into today's game verses La-Lafayette.

"There are some things we would like to accomplish this season and I believe we are capable of meeting our goals," Garrison reflected and predicted at the same time. "We're close. We all have the same goals and want to accomplish the same things this season. There will be times when it will be hard but as a senior it will be mine and the other seniors' jobs to make sure we get over those humps when we hit them."

Any particular goals you would like to share?

"Oh, you know. Championships. To be the best. To give it our all both as a team and personally. And it's not all about the seniors out there this year either. We've got a lot of talented freshmen and sophomores and others who are ready to do their part."

And it all begins against Louisiana Lafayette?

"That's right. One game at a time with us getting better each week."

Sounds cliche'.

"Maybe. But it is what successful teams have done in the past so why change it? Why try to reinvent it? We just need to do our best and let the coaches coach us and everything will work out fine."

You are confident about that.

"Yessir. Absolutely. There is something about this team. We know what we have to do."

Okay, so you were listed as a second teamer not all that long ago and now because of injury it seems you are a first teamer. It's okay if I put it that way Jay Gee?

"Yeah, sure. That doesn't bother me. That's all part of football. Strange things happen sometimes and out of nowhere someone gets a chance to shine you know what I mean? I know where my game is and I know my role on this team. My game is at the next level right now and I am ready to do what I need to do to fullfill my obligations to myself and my team."

It was about this time that I recognized John Garrison's (father) confidence in Jeremiah, but his mother Loretta's boldness. He is a pleasant mixture of his two parents and I told him so.

"My Mom and Dad are important to me. They always have been and they always will be. Be sure to mention them Russ okay?"

We just did Jeremiah. Now give me some good stats to share with our readers. Weight, bench, things like that.

"I'm going about 230 or so right now. I came into camp around 240 but camp took about 10 pounds off of me. I'll get it back though. And as far as my bench is concerned I'm up to 445 - my strength has really gone up since the last time you and I talked."

Body fat?

"Around 9%, I'm about where I want to be in that regard. At that percentage I have more stamina and can go longer out there than I can with less body fat than that."

Alright then let's finish this up by talking about the new defense, about your climb back to the top on the depth chart, and about any weaknesses you feel you may have that we should look for against Lousiana Lafayette.

"Well first of all earlier you said I had worked my way back from the second team but really, in all reality, I missed Spring so I came in this Summer listed on the third team. But I never doubted I would start by the first game and that is what is happening. And as far as the 4-3 is concerned it is designed especially for me to hit people and I like that a lot. We can put eight people in the box or we can blitz or we can drop back, we can do a lot of things. I really think everyone is going to like what they see out there. We know we needed to get more pressure on quarterbacks and I think that has been taken care of with the new things we are doing. What was the last part of the question Russ?"

Your weaknesses? You and I were talking about your weaknesses earlier before the interview started.

"Oh yeah. Okay. Well in this new defense one of the things we linebackers are going to have to do is cover a lot more backs out of the backfield and tight ends and things like that. We're not going to have the Spurs helping us out off the ends. It's been one of my weak points but we'll see how it goes once we get out there live."

Yes we will. All of us will be watching the linebackers to see how they handle thier new assignments now.

"Good. I hope we do not disappoint you," Garrison said with a very confident smile.

I seriously doubt that you will.

"Thanks Russ."

Have a good game Saturday Jeremiah.

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