Garnett doesn’t have beef with Washington fans

christian.caple@thenewstribune.comOctober 4, 2013 

SEATTLE — Buried beneath the bullet-point accolades and high-school accomplishments on Joshua Garnett’s official online biography, there is one achievement that begs for an explanation.

The Stanford sophomore offensive lineman once, according to this page, “ate seven pieces of 24-ounce prime rib at the Lawry’s Beef Bowl,” an annual eating competition between the teams playing in the Rose Bowl game.

This is not a particularly fond memory for Garnett, who cringes and chuckles at the question.

“I was talking about how I was a pretty good eater, and a bunch of guys called … my bluff,” said the 6-foot-5, 316-pound guard from Puyallup. “I definitely wouldn’t do that again if our team was fortunate enough to make it to the Rose Bowl. Let’s just say practice the next day was pretty tough.”

Then again, perhaps Garnett, the former Puyallup

High School star, had earned that colossal meal. He was, after all, the first true freshman to start a game on Stanford’s offensive line since 2000 – his bio more prominently displays that milestone – and played in each of the Cardinal’s 14 games as a first-year player.

This season, Garnett remains a backup to All-American guard David Yankey, though he also plays tight end – he played some fullback last season, too – in Stanford’s jumbo package, which is as odd an offensive alignment as any in the country.

Garnett made his first start this season in place of Yankey, who was tending to a family matter when Stanford played last week against Washington State.

That game was played at CenturyLink Field, where “20 or 25” friends and family members had tickets to watch Garnett play, including Puyallup coach Gary Jeffers and a handful of current Puyallup players.

“It’s certainly a sense of pride that he’s a Puyallup Viking and we’re a part of his roots,” Jeffers said. “It was a lot of excitement for him, a wonderful experience and opportunity for him and in front of his friends and family.”

This week, Garnett will play for the second time against Washington, the school where his father, Scott, was a standout defensive lineman in the early 1980s before graduating to a four-year NFL career.

Because of that connection, many hoped Garnett, a highly regarded recruit in the 2012 signing class, would stay home and play for the Huskies.

But the opportunity not only to play for the Cardinal, but to attend a school as prestigious as Stanford – he is a dedicated student and wants to be a doctor – was too much to turn down.

A segment of the Huskies fan base didn’t take the news particularly well, though Garnett, a gregarious sort, holds no ill will toward anyone who directed unkind remarks toward him during a hectic recruitment period.

“Those Husky fans are die-hard fans,” Garnett said. “They should be. The Huskies are a great team this year. I definitely understood a little bit of the animosity towards me. It was all just because of how much they love Husky football.”

Still, he’s excited for UW’s visit to Stanford for a game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, not only for the family ties, but because he stays in communication with several Huskies players.

He said he’s probably closest with UW left guard Dexter Charles, a Stanwood High School alum. The two attended a Nike camp together in high school and still talk every now and then.

“I’m happy that he’s getting some time down there to show what he can do,” Charles said. “It’ll be good to see him after the game, give him a high-five, say what’s up.

“It’s just cool to see guys who come from this area, whether they come here or anywhere else to play and do good for themselves.”

With Yankey back in the lineup, Garnett’s most prominent role will likely be as the Cardinal’s jumbo tight end in one of their sets that features seven or eight offensive linemen.

It’s a position Garnett cherishes, he said, because it allows him the opportunity to square up linebackers and cornerbacks and try to deliver a solid block on them. That’s a skill that makes him a better guard, too.

“Getting some little guys in space and playing basketball with them is always fun,” Garnett said. “You might get juked out of your socks, but you feel real good when you get a good hit on those smaller guys.

“I love it. It helps out so much.”

So does Garnett, wherever Stanford plays him.

ALMOST A HUSKY

Stanford receiver Michael Rector, a sophomore who played at Bellarmine Prep, was committed to Washington before changing his mind and signing with the Cardinal. He caught three passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns against WSU last week.

christian.caple@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports

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