Hard Work And Flexibility Make Garner A Leader Among Aggies
Nov. 9, 2011
LOGAN, Utah -
By Megan Allen / USU Athletic Media Relations
It doesn't matter if it is cold outside, or how bad the quality of the winter air in Cache Valley gets, you can guarantee defensive end Quinn Garner will show up to football practice, ready to give it his all.
"An Aggie is someone who is going to show up and work," Garner said. "It doesn't matter if it's a red air day and they don't even let kids play outside. They are going to show up and work their hardest."
Coming to Logan from his home in Santa Cruz, Calif. was just what Garner needed after high school. He had narrowed his choices down to Utah State or San Jose State, but decided he needed to actually get away for college.
"San Jose State is just 20 minutes away from where I'm from," Garner said. "I decided going there wouldn't really be going away to college. I decided I needed to take a risk, so I came here."
Once he got here, Garner jumped right into the Utah State program, where he has played in every game of his career. By his sophomore year, he had worked his way into the starting lineup and hasn't left.
His time as an Aggie has proven him to be a very flexible and diverse player. Recruited as a linebacker, that's how he spent his first year. However, upon Gary Andersen's arrival, he was moved to the defensive line.
"I had to get used to the physicality of every play," Garner said. "Stuff happens a lot faster on the defensive line as opposed to the linebacker spot."
He spent that year putting on weight and getting bigger and stronger overall, and learned the ways of a defensive end.
"Now, I definitely like the D-line better. At linebacker you have a chance to make a lot of plays, but it involves a lot of thinking in all of those plays," Garner said. "On the defensive line, I just get to play football. I don't have to spend as much time thinking about it all. I just get to play and enjoy it."
That experience has made Garner an overall better player and his career blossomed from the change.
Overall, he has a lot of experience and that makes him a leader among his teammates. He is often asked questions and is always willing to help his younger teammates improve.
"One of the biggest things about being one of the older guys on the team is setting an example," Garner said. "I have to be willing to do extra work and put a lot into this, so others will know what they need to."
Another part of his leadership and expertise lies in avoiding mistakes.
"I have to be more careful not to make some of the simple mental mistakes," Garner said. "Everyone's going to make some physical mistakes on occasion, but the mental ones are what cause problems."
Garner believes that by the way he works at football and the effort he gives it, he is helping his teammates have the same drive and dedication.
"Leading by example is one of the harder things. But if people can see that can be done, they realize they need to get it done," Garner said. "I want to be the guy the younger guys come to with questions and for help."
Advice and direction that comes from a teammate rather than a coach is often more helpful, Garner added.
"The coaches are always going to yell at you and get you to do those things. Everyone has had those kind of coaches their entire life," Garner said. "When someone that you're playing with tells you to do things, it hits you a little bit deeper and makes you want to act that way. You need to have someone like that on your team."
This year's seniors are among the few remaining who have played under both Andersen and former head coach Brent Guy. Having to go through an entire change in a coaching staff taught this class a lot and worked through the challenges that came with it.
"Not a lot of people have to go through that while they're in college. But I think it was necessary, and it was good. I think Coach Andersen is a way better fit for our team and where we are. I'm thankful for it," Garner said. "It was kind of weird at first, but once he got here and got his hands in the program, it just took off. We just do what he says."
Garner may be graduating as early as this December with his degree in interdisciplinary studies. The next step in life all depends on the work he puts in at the end of this season.
"I'll just be working out and training for Pro Day to see if I can get a shot at the next level," Garner said. "If I had my pick, I'd play for the Miami Dolphins, they're my team. But I really don't care, I just want to get out there."
Once his football career comes to an end, Garner is planning on attending graduate school to become a physical therapist.
"I had three surgeries in high school so I had to go to a lot of physical therapy, and even though it hurt, I kind of liked it," he said.
In addition to learning about physical therapy, Garner's biggest lesson he has learned during his time at Utah State is that hard work will get you places.
"It's the stuff that you hear your whole life," Garner said. "But once you play football, especially at this level, you see the things becoming a reality. People that work the hardest are the people who are going to do the best. Football is the perfect way to learn that. You literally see, especially after four years, that the people who put in the most time and are the most dedicated, are the ones who do the best."