EL PASO, Texas - As he tried to grab the NFL’s attention, what will pro teams see in former UTEP Wide Receiver Justin Garrett?
"No matter what the circumstances may be or what position you put me in, I feel like I'm going to outwork anybody," says Garrett, who is prepping for the NFL here in El Paso. "I know that I'm gonna put in and do whatever it takes to make it to the next level."
Now most prospects can say they'll out work anyone, but Garrett takes it to another level.
Growing up in Compton, California, Garrett spent time living homeless. While working a full-time job, he had to claw for a roster spot at the nearby Cerritos Junior College.
"In junior college, I worked at a grocery store and my shift was from 4-10," recalls Garrett of his early morning shifts. "I would go and stock shelves and help pull pallets and pull out waters and display heavy type of stuff. Hard on the body at 4am to 10am."
"After I get off work, I'm in the car I drive to the JUCO (junior college). Get on the bus, take a nap on the bus. Then play in a game at 1pm."
"So I've been through a lot, just blessed to be in this situation."
All came came before UTEP, the only school that offered him a full Division-I scholarship. After Garrett signed on, the Miners went 1-11 his first year on campus.
But patient Garrett worked his way to the top of the depth chart at wide receiver and on special teams, leading the team in catches in 2019.
"There's been times I came off the field after I scored a touchdown, I'm still going to run down the field on kickoffs," says Garrett of his versality in the offense and on special teams. "After a third and ten and we didn't convert, I'm right there at gunner to cover the punt."
In 2019, Garrett garnered honorable mention All-Conference USA honors as a punt returner.
It’s no surprise that Garrett’s triumph as a player, coincided with UTEP’s turnaround as a program.
This past season, Garrett was a captain on a team that reached UTEP's first bowl appearance in six years. But to the kid from Compton, it was a product of hard work.
"I've been through a lot. Football is just a game, but those are like life issues that can't be changed in one play. So it just built up my attitude and my mindset that it can always be done, I can always give more."
"I can be tough no matter what, and I'm just going to give it my all."
Now the work continues with an eye on the pros. Garrett is training for the next level in El Paso with coaches from local gym Top View Fitness, who also work with current NFL players Aaron Jones and Steven Montez.
His body is certainly NFL ready. He jumped a 39.5-inch vertical and 10.5-inch box jump at UTEP’s pro day last month.
"Right now, I'm just working on my strength and of course my speed. Just continuing to improve, you can always be better, you can always be faster, you can always be stronger.
While he’s a wide receiver by trade, Garrett will do anything to make it on an NFL roster. He says he's spoken with the Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, and Las Vegas Raiders thus far about his potential.
"They love the aspect of me that I'm ready to play special teams," says Garrett about what teams like. "I'm not just going to the NFL and playing special teams because I have to, but because I want to."
It's the same mentality that's got thus far in life.
"I just need one opportunity and I'm gonna run with it and give it everything I've got."
Watch the attached video for Nate Ryan's full story on Garrett.