Recruiting: Josh Garnett and Zach Banner are the bookend tackles of a coach's dream team

Recruiting: Josh Garnett and Zach Banner are the bookend tackles of a coach's dream team

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Recruiting: Josh Garnett and Zach Banner are the bookend tackles of a coach's dream team

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Josh Garnett

Jersey:
#78
Pos:
OT
Ht/Wt:
6’5″/275

The first ten plays of his highlight video Josh Garnett knocks his defender down;  on one of the plays, two different players on the same play. He’s a huge, elite lineman, prodigiously strong, mobile and athletic enough to be throwing blocks 30 yards downfield. He doesn’t just throw blocks, he throws opponents, shoving them down like poorly-dug fence poles.

At the 1:00-minute mark he’s playing left tackle on an inside handoff, and collapses the right side of the opponents’ defense like an expandable file wrested from the hands of an IRS agent. His team wears a logo on their helmet like the Minnesota Vikings, and watching him, you feel like a Vikings tackle decided to get a little work in during the lockout by subbing in for a local high school team.

He’s the most dominant high school offensive tackle I’ve ever seen. He makes the kind of blocks you see in a football movie, like the scene in “The Blind Side” where Michael blocks the loud-mouthed cocky white kid all the way back to the bus. His technique is incredibly polished, particularly for a young man his size. At 1:29 it’s an option right, and Josh’s job is to seal off the defensive end on the back side and keep him from trailing the play. He squares up on the kid across from him and just destroys him, driving him into the turf. Like all good lineman he plays to the whistle and finishes blocks with incredible tenacity. He takes his man completely out of the play, defeats him, and sends the message, “I’m going to dominate you tonight. You will be bruised and demoralized.” At 2:10 he piles up two defenders like Jenga blocks, springing a 30-yard gain. He has very good hands, getting great position and leverage, extremely consistent, absolutely textbook in his execution, using his awesome physical advantage perfectly.

The one question is, at the high school level he’s so physically gifted and imposing, you wonder how he’d handle a more challenging matchup, lining across from the biggest, strongest and best at the next level. The answer must surely be, any kid that works this hard play after play, who’s clearly mastered the techniques of his position and applied himself to get this strong and effective will not surrender to any challenge at any level. Baring injury, Josh Garnett is going to make a fortune in five years, because exceptional blind-side tackles are the highest paid athletes in the NFL after quarterbacks.

At 2:55 it looks like a Hail Mary or an obvious passing situation, and the quarterback rolls left and then scrambles. Garnett sustains his block for seven to eight seconds, the quarterback works all the way to the right hash before throwing down to the five. The pass is intercepted, but the left tackle’s assigned defender finishes the play on his knees.

In pass protection Garnett controls the defender beautifully with strong arms and a powerful base. He does a superbly effective job of keeping his hands inside the shoulders of the opponent. Despite taking on the defense’s quickest, best rusher from the weakside, he’ll be among the least-penalized blockers on the line. He’s extraordinarily well-taught–if I could interview him the first question I’d ask if he’d studied film on great pro lineman or had a coaching background in his family. At 4:00, the player across from him is completely frustrated. #78 is a wall he can’t get around or through, and by the end of the play he’s completely lost composure, throwing a half-hearted punch as he’s 30 yards out of the play and nowhere near the quarterback. Bryan Bennett, Marcus Mariota or Jake Rodrigues could play with a lot of confidence, knowing they had this strong protector at their back.  Crossing routes, post corners, pump fakes and other longer-developing plays become way more effective when you don’t have to worry about backside pressure.

Garnett is a relentless run blocker, providing lanes and seams that tailbacks love. In zone blocking, where he’d be able to take the defender where he thinks he wants to go, he would simply ride him right out of the play, as he does at 4:34. Defenders just can’t get off his blocks, and he won’t let them go.

The 6-5 275-lb. All-American is wonderfully agile and has terrific footwork. There are a few plays later in the video clip with him playing on the defensive side, and it’s tempting to think of him being a throwback and going both ways. As a defensive linemen you see how overpowering he is; against high schoolers he looks as strong as Ngata, Olshansky or Paea. Rivals.com reports that he has a 350-lb. bench, a 500-lb. squat, and oh yeah, a 3.87 G.P.A. It’s a tribute to his agility that he’s lined up at defensive end rather than inside on a few of the snaps.

A Top 100 prospect, Garnett is good friends with Lakes High star Zach Banner, and the two are very close.The Puyallup star told Bryan Fisher ofcbssports.com,“We’re definitely going to be looking at the same schools, we’re good friends,” he said. “We’re going to look at the same schools just because of that chemistry we have together.

Garnett is a serious student who wants to major in pre-med, so academics are a definite factor in his college decision. He was MVP of the recent Nike Training Camp at Husky Stadium, and with his grades and football talent he’ll be able to attend any school he’d like. According to espn.com, he’s chiefly considering Stanford, California, Notre Dame, Washington, and Oregon

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