Enjoying the ride

Published 9:15 am Saturday, July 18, 2009

Among the most notable personalities in the Tigers’ senior class stands Caleb Garrett. The Demopolis right tackle is a complex combination of intensity, intellect and interesting.

“He moves to the beat of a different drummer,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey says. “His personalty fits in well with the other kids on the team. Caleb’s a leader in his own way.”

Credited as possessing one of the more laid back demeanors on the team, Garrett prides himself on his ability to make light of situations.

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“I like to make things fun for people,” Garrett says. “During plays and practice, I get focused in and do what I have to do.”

He laughs as he recounts a weight room run-in with teammate Allen Tucker. Garrett tells of how Tucker became agitated as he struggled to hit his target lift. Realizing that his teammate’s frustration was counterproductive, Garrett did what he does well, cutting through the situation with humor and helping Tucker to relax.

“I like to make people laugh,” Garrett says with a smile. “It’s times like that where being an idiot really helps out.”

While he understands how to keep things light, Garrett also knows how and when to let the serious prevail.

“Sometimes, as a coach, it makes you want to shake him,” former Demopolis offensive line coach Jeremy Sullivan says of Garrett’s unflappable demeanor. “But football is very important to Caleb. He kind of taught me something as a coach; just because a kid is laid back like Caleb doesn’t mean he’s not as intense as everybody else.”

During his one season at Demopolis, Sullivan grasped the dichotomy of Garret’s personality. He saw the young man’s relaxed approach to the mundane and learned to recognize his own form of intensity. In so doing, Sullivan was successful in helping Garrett develop the two sides of his game.

“There is no doubt he has come a long way,” Causey says of Garrett. “He really matured last year under Coach Sullivan.”

“I really grew a lot,” Garrett says of his year with Sullivan. “He taught me a lot of things. I think the biggest thing he taught me was just to go crazy on somebody. Of course he really helped me with techniques, but he really helped me with the mental part of the game.”

Sullivan is quick to express his confidence in Garrett’s abilities to execute the mental aspect of the offensive line position.

“Caleb is a very, very, very intelligent kid. I thought he got tougher mentally as the year went on,” Sullivan says.

While Garrett enjoy playing the offensive line, he also finds a release when he is given the opportunity to play on the defensive side of the ball.

“For me, on offense you have to know a little bit more of what you’re doing. Defense is really more the attack side of football,” Garrett says. “I love defensive line. I get in there sometimes in practice and make big hits. It’s fun.”

Garrett’s move to the offensive line happened as a seventh-grader when he volunteered for the position that no one else would play. With the exception of his freshman year, he has started at right tackle since.

Although he is tall, Garrett lacks the girth of most offensive tackles. That fact means the senior has to be even adept at the mental aspect of the game.

“He’s got to use his technique and his knowledge of the offense,” Causey says. “He knows how to get his hat and his pads in the right position. He’s very smart. Caleb is good for our offense.”

“He’s an athletic kid. He kind of strikes me as being a skinny kid,” Sullivan says of Garrett’s physical makeup. “But he’s able to do what he needs to do. I always thought that he was kind of underrated.”

As much as Garrett’s trademarks on the field are his technique and his intensity, his calling cards off it are even more apparent.

“I’ve done so many different things with my hair,” he says with a laugh when asked about the mane that drops well below his shoulders. “I’m growing it down almost to my waist and when I cut it, I’m going to give it to Locks of Love. About this time next year, hopefully it will be time to snip it and give it to Locks of Love.”

The only thing more noticeable than Garrett’s long hair may be his affinity for his choice of transportation.

“I got my first bike when I was probably six or seven,” Garrett says of the beginnings of his affection for motorcycles. That love was later cultivated by his relationship with his father and uncle, who each treasure the machines.

“This past Christmas, I wanted nothing but a bike,” he explains.

That desire was fulfilled when Garrett received a Honda Cv 750. Since getting the bike, Garrett has discovered another outlet.

“Other than getting mad and knocking somebody out on a good crack back, there is nothing that compares to riding my bike,” he says. “It’s my release.”

Over the next several months, Garrett will rely upon that release and his laid back approach to life as he navigates through the chief challenges of his final year of high school.

“This year, school is my biggest thing. Football is another big thing,” he says. “Other than that, it’s just have fun and enjoy it.”

And if anything is true about Caleb Garrett, it is that he is fully understands how to have fun and enjoy the ride.