Don’t Mess With (Big) Texas
Right about the time we started doing this blog, spring football practice was about to start in the spring of 2009. We went to the spring scrimmages to see players like Santez Mays, Brandt Thomas, Carnell Clark, and Ryan Perrilloux. Throughout the scrimmage, the player wearing #77 on defense kept getting our attention. Quite often, players aren’t wearing their regular season numbers in spring practice, so we had no idea who the player was. Curt Porter wears #77, but he plays offensive line. We just knew 77 in the red jersey (defensive team) was in the offensive backfield on almost every play. He made it really difficult for the offense to get in sync. After the scrimmage, we asked one of the coaches if he could tell us who this guy is. As it turns out, he’s the same guy that was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week after the Ole Miss game…Rodney “BigTexas” Garrott.
After watching him creating mayhem for opposing teams for several weeks, we got an opportunity to get to know the junior linebacker a little better.
Below are pictures from that spring scrimmage…
Q: How did you get the name Big Texas?
A: I was born in Illinois, but raised in TX. I lived there most of my life. When we moved to AL from Texas, the name just stuck with me.
Q: Tell us a little about the road you took to get to JSU.
A: I was recruited by several schools; UAB, Southern Miss, Memphis…some Conference USA schools. When I made a visit to JSU, I really liked it here and liked the defensive coach. That made a difference.
Q: The Ole Miss game this year is unforgettable. Describe how you felt after that game.
A: The first thing I thought was about how tired I was. I played every play of the game, and it went into double overtime, so I was real tired. Afterwards though, it was a great feeling. It was great to be there with my teammates.
Q: What defensive adjustments were made at halftime of the Ole Miss game? They only scored 3 during the second half (not counting the overtime).
A: No real adjustments. We needed the time to catch our breath. We knew we could play better defensively. We raised our level of focus and cut our mental errors. That was really the key.
Q: Were you surprised with the number of people that met the busses when the team got back to JSU?
A: Well, we heard there were a lot of people waiting. (You can spread the word pretty fast with facebook and texts these days) Still, it felt really good that so many people came out. We were all impressed.
Q: A couple of weeks after the Ole Miss game, we played Ga State. They played us a lot closer than most people expected. What happened there?
A: We’re a target for just about everyone we play now. We get everyone’s best shot. We can watch film, and see teams miss plays, miss blocks, make mistakes. Then we get on the field with them, and they give more effort. They make those plays against us – they give it their best. That’s what happens – not just with Ga State, but with everyone we play.
Q: You are motivated and focused every week. What do you do to keep that focus week after week?
A: I love football. I have a real passion for it. I take it serious. I’m blessed with the opportunity to play football. I always challenge myself to play a game like it’s my last one.
Q: When you are getting after the quarterback, how do you explain your ability to get by the offensive linemen and disrupt plays in the backfield? You seem to do that at will.
A: Sometimes I’m in pass coverage from a linebacker position and sometimes I line up as an end and rush the passer. I played d-end when I first got to JSU, and have kept the “tools” I learned there. I’ve been told that in situations like that, where I want to get into the backfield, and the o-lineman is trying to block me, that 90% of it is just who wants it more. You’ve got to want it more. I’m thinking “does he work harder than me?” No. I want it more.
Q: Who is an influence on you?
A: Everyone on the team right now, especially the defensive players. We spend a lot of time together. Our seniors really inspire me to work hard. On another level, I think Ray Lewis (LB for the Baltimore Ravens) inspires me. He’s just so intense.
Q: Calvin Middleton was hurt for a while. How is he doing?
A: Calvin is getting better every day. I don’t know how far away he is from 100%, but I saw him today and he looks better all the time. He doesn’t have to be 100% to help this team.
Q: Do you notice any of the younger guys showing out on the scout team?
A: (Fullback) Jahron Brown. He’s really putting in the work and will be a good player for JSU. We have a few receivers out there that look really good. We have some good young players at all positions.
Q: What would you say to a young guy considering playing football at JSU?
A: First, I’d tell him “I hope you’re in shape. We run all over the field here.” Seriously, I’d tell him to come to JSU with great expectations. I’d ask him if he wants greatness for himself. We want to dare to be great.
Q: Brannon Byrd, one of your teammates on defense, has been making quite a few plays. What would you say about him?
A: He’s a juco transfer. I’d say Brannon is exactly what coaches look for in a juco player – a player that can come in and make plays and be a leader.
Q: You go against our offense often in practice. Who do you enjoy competing against on our offense?
A: I’d say Cory Freeman. He deserves credit for my success. Cory makes we work hard and earn it every day.
Q: While we’ve won all of our games, most people will say that some of the games have been closer than they should have been. How close are we to becoming a dominant football team?
A: We’re not dominant yet. We’re still far from where we can be, but not that far from being dominant. It’s no further that a game away.
Q: What are your plans after college?
A: Well, getting a job would be a priority. I am seriously considering going to graduate school. Of course, I’d love to play football at the next level. I’ll give that all I can, but if it doesn’t work out, grad school is a great option.
Q: Thanks for your time tonight. Before we go, is there anything you’d like to say to the Gamecock Nation?
A: Atmosphere is a big deal. I got here in 2007. I’ve seen small crowds and big ones. It’s a lot easier to get up for a game when there’s a big crowd. Come out to the game and make some noise. JSU is a great atmosphere. I love it!
Thanks Big Texas. Good luck this week. Go Gamecocks!