Who is this newfound star that’s been impressing Blue Devil fanatics week after week? Where did he come from? Breakout wide receiver Jarett Garner is a redshirt sophomore originally from Harrisburg, N.C., just two hours outside of Durham. Coming out of high school, Garner was a three-star recruit who had an incredible senior year. He was able to haul in 43 receptions for 846 yards and 10 touchdowns, confirming the hype around his ability was very real.
However, it has taken some time to establish himself in the rotation at Duke. In his first season, two years ago, he only saw action in four games, totaling just 70 snaps in the year. However, Garner proved he was willing to put in the work to get better, as he won the Sonny Falcone Iron Duke Award, given to players for their commitment to strength training. With an already impressive 6’3’ frame, adding more strength was going to make Garner a huge threat for the 2019 season.
Unfortunately, Duke fans were yet again robbed of Garner’s potential in 2019, where after just 11 snaps, he suffered a season-ending knee injury. It was devastating loss for the team.
This year is a different story. Garner has had two years under the guidance of Duke athletic trainers and has come back fully healthy with a point to prove. Just halfway through the season, he has already played in more games than any other year and with that consistent field time, he has been able to show off just how good he can be.
His combination of height and speed allow him to be a great threat on downfield plays, taking advantage of whoever guards him. In three of the five games he’s played this year, Garner has recorded a reception of over 25 yards. Against Virginia Tech, he totaled three receptions for 84 yards, an average of 28 per catch. For an offense that was struggling heavily to push the ball downfield, their performance against Virginia Tech showed signs of hope and Garner’s chunk plays were a huge reason for that.
The next game it seemed as though both Garner and Duke had put it all together. Not only was the performance against Syracuse strong defensively, but it was also by far the best offensive game of the season for Chase Brice and the Blue Devils. As for Garner, you may remember a specific play where he shined the brightest. With just a minute left in the first half, in a drive looking like it was headed for a field goal, quarterback Chase Brice targeted Garner 10 yards downfield. The Hickory Ridge alumnus then proceeded to make three Syracuse defenders miss and outran a fourth on his way to a 52-yard touchdown.
He would finish that game tying his season-high with three receptions and adding in 73 important yards that would give Duke Football their first win of the season. For those that did not know who Garner was before, they should now.
He’s got the right mix of size and athleticism to be a huge threat and his strong work ethic will continue to get him to higher levels. Look for Jarett Garner to continue his breakout run after the week off, as Duke takes on Charlotte on October 31.