CFL 2011 Grey Cup: A Look at Chris Garrett's Early Career

Dorian McLean@Quartz87Contributor IIINovember 22, 2011

His name is Chris Garrett and he grew up in Utica, New York. He was born in February of 1987 and he currently plays professional football for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

He played college football at Ohio University, was named a third-team Freshman All-American and All-MAC as a return man in 2006.

During the 2007 season Garrett would set records for kick return yards with 145, longest kick return with 94 and kick return touchdowns with one.

Not until the 2008 season did Garrett really start shining, as he was named to the third-team All-MAC, was Ohio's career leader in kick return averages at 26.5 a return. He would finish sixth in the MAC in all-purpose yardage at 131.5.

During that same season Garrett would rush for a career-high 222 yards and two touchdowns while setting a school record with 321 all-purpose yards during their win over Miami.

In the end Garrett finished with the Ohio Bobcats with 43 punt returns for 450 yards and one touchdown as well as 82 kickoff returns for 2,185 yards and three touchdowns. At the same time, Garrett carried the ball 300 times for 1,346 yards and seven touchdowns over his four years.

Come time around the NFL draft Garrett went unselected but was invited to a rookie camp held by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When nothing emerged, Garrett returned home, working hard on completing his dream to play ball.

It wasn’t until the 2010 year that Garrett would finally get his shot at the professional level, signing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and being activated for the Banjo Bowl against their rival, the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

During this game the Winnipeg defense was so stiff that Garrett never had an opportunity to return any balls and would wait a week before getting on the field.

It wasn’t until the final game of the season that Garrett had a real opportunity to showcase himself as the primary running back Fred Reid went down with an injury. Garrett would rush for 82 yards on 13 carries and one reception for 20 yards.

Chris Garrett would return to the Bombers in the 2011 training camp but was released prior to the 2011 campaign. In August, Garrett got the call from the club to return once again and signed a contract.

Garrett was primarily used on the practice roster for depth purposes behind starting back Fred Reid and Carl Volny. It wasn’t until Week 14 that Garrett would get his chance at the starting job with both Reid and Volny being lost for the season due to injuries.

Since taking over the job in the regular season, Garrett averaged 96 yards a game, breaking two for over 100 yards and being the first running back to break the century plateau in the 2011 season. Garrett would also rush in four touchdowns while adding 20 receptions for 91 yards.

Then when the Bombers clinched the Eastern final and was one win away from the Grey Cup, Garrett had arguably his best football game in his career, rushing for 190 yards behind 29 attempts and one reception for 10 yards.

When you look at Chris Garrett you can see a running back that has the speed, strength and determination to be one of the best at what he does.

To be a complete back one must be able to catch on the run, power through the offensive line and be there for your quarterback on blitz packages. Garrett continues each and every week to improve each stat and will only get better as time progresses.

Looking ahead to next season, Garrett will certainly return in training camp and while you hate to see players go out that way, this season may be the last for Fred Reid.

If true we’ll most certainly be seeing a battle between Garrett and Carl Volny next season in training camp, as the Bombers look to hoist a Grey Cup banner in their new stadium.

When it looked like Garrett would have to wait his time to play football again, he was recalled, activated and at the end of the day helped put his team in the grand finale.

As you look back on the 2011 season and what could have been on a full 18-game schedule, Garrett could have rushed for almost 2,000 yards in his first full season.

And come Sunday, Chris Garrett will look to be on the top of his game as he looks to help his team bring home a Grey Cup championship that has eluded their city for over two decades.

He is one win away from establishing himself as one of the premier backs in the league and has done so behind a hard work ethic and professional manner.