By BEN JOHNSON
A new shipment of team T-shirts arrived in Northeastern State’s locker room last summer. Kenny Garrett snatched his new garment and proudly sported the new threads.
Shortly after that, Garrett woke up in a hospital bed. What put him there just so happened to be his new Under Armour shirt.
“I passed out,” he said, “then I woke up and I was in the hospital. Then I was in the hospital for a good four to five days.”
Garrett said he was aware of his unusual allergy with Under Armour gear, but he grabbed a new shirt — not knowing the brand or material — and threw it on regardless.
“I didn’t know what it was made out of, and I was like, ‘I want to wear the shirt,’” Garrett recalled. “I wore it out to practice and got over-heated in the shirt.”
The most frustrating part for Garrett was receiving some unpleasant news from the doctor at the hospital.
“Even when I got released, the doctor said, ‘it’s going to take six to seven weeks for your body to be back to normal,” Garrett said. “That’s because my body was so low.”
Needing close to two months to recover, Garrett — a 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman — was forced to watch as the RiverHawks drudged through a six-game losing streak to begin the season. Plus, he was worried about how the coaching staff would perceive his idle time.
“It was frustrating because when I’m on the field I’m giving 110 percent,” Garrett said. “But to the coaches, it looked like I wasn’t giving 110 percent. It looked like I’m not going hard at all, but to me I am. They can’t really tell what I’m feeling like. But they could tell the difference when I was back out there giving 110 percent.”
And coincidence or not, Garrett made his season debut against Central Missouri on Oct. 20. The RiverHawks won 24-23 and went on to close out the season with four straight victories.
“We just came back from (the off week), and the team was a lot closer after that,” Garrett said, referring to NSU’s bye week in between a loss to Missouri Western and the win over Central Missouri.
“We made a commitment not to lose anymore games, and we didn’t.”
During his brief junior campaign, Garrett — who transferred to NSU after playing junior college football at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M — racked up 18 tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, one interception and one pass break-up. NSU head coach Kenny Evans said he’ll be looking for more production out of the Oklahoma City native in 2013.
“He’ll be very important,” Evans said of Garrett, an alum of Crooked Oak High School. “He was in at key times last year. His size is a big factor, and after being in our program for a year, we’ll expect some big things out of him.”