AUBURN, Ala. — It might end up being a lost season for Justin Garrett.
The junior was the Defensive MVP of Auburn’s spring game and was expected to be one of the team’s standout defenders this fall at the “Star,” the Tigers’ hybrid linebacker/safety position. However, Garrett missed the first two games of the season with a sprained foot before returning to play against Mississippi State and LSU, respectively. As quickly as he came back, Garrett was sidelined once more after suffering another foot injury.
Due to his prolonged absence, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Garrett may take a medical redshirt and sit out the remainder of the season.
“He’s just now getting the boot off,” Johnson said after Sunday night’s practice. “He’ll start being able to do some things on it — gradually. It’s not my call, but frankly if he gets into that last week or so, it’d be my judgment that there ought to be a redshirt and bring him back. Hopefully he can stay healthy and get two more years.”
Johnson cautioned that the coaching staff still has yet to discuss whether Garrett will redshirt. If he doesn’t have any issues during his rehab, Johnson would be fine if the Tucker native returned this year.
“That may be a decision that’s made for us,” he said. “If he all of a sudden feels great, he could play two or three games and a bowl game, maybe that would be worth it.”
It’s been a frustrating campaign for Garrett so far. While dealing with his first foot injury, Robenson Therezie usurped him as the starter at Star. In an attempt to get him more playing time, Garrett shifted to weakside linebacker to compete for the starting job alongside Cassanova McKinzy. But in the two games he has been healthy enough to play, Garrett was essentially a non-factor, making just four total tackles, splitting the tally evenly between the Mississippi State and LSU contests.
Johnson reiterated that he believes Garrett should sit out the rest of the season to regain his full health, starting anew in the spring.
In the end, though, the coach knew only his player could make the final decision.
“I think we ought to respect the way he feels about it,” Johnson said. “(But) I certainly don’t think he should throw a year away to play a game or two.”