Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett is expected by many to be the top overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Unlike other probable high draft picks who are skipping their bowl games after dealing with injuries this season, the defensive end will play for the Aggies when they meet Kansas State in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday night.
“Texas is home to me, so whenever I’m here I want to bring home a win,” said Garrett, an Arlington Martin graduate. “No matter who it is … you’ve got to play your hardest and try your best for a win.”
Garrett got healthy late in the season after dealing with a high ankle sprain for most of the year. Coach Kevin Sumlin not only appreciates that he never questioned playing in the bowl game with so much at stake personally, but also what the junior did for the Aggies all season.
Texas is home to me, so whenever I’m here I want to bring home a win.
A&M defensive end and Arlington Martin grad Myles Garrett
“With what you see going on with bowl games, with what you see going on during the year in playing games, this guy was not healthy after Arkansas and was a dominant player,” Sumlin said. “And the fact that he wanted to play in games at 50 percent … with his teammates says more about him than just his talent. It’s been a great example to our younger players.”
Garrett was a consensus All-American this season after finishing with 8 1/2 sacks and 15 tackles for loss despite missing two games and being limited in several others.
“He is a big, physical guy that can get his hands up and disrupt throws, disrupt the quarterback,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “He is obviously a good pass rusher. He has got length to him, he has those long arms, and sometimes it is just hard to get to him because he can keep you at bay with those long arms that he has. Good player, very good player.”
While Garrett is the unquestioned star in this bowl game, the Wildcats also have a standout defensive end in Jordan Willis, who could also be drafted in the first round. The Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year led the conference in sacks with 11 1/2 , which tied a school record, and he has 16 1/2 tackles for loss.
... The fact that he wanted to play in games at 50 percent … with his teammates says more about him than just his talent. It’s been a great example to our younger players.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on Garrett
“He’s a really, really talented guy. One of the better defensive linemen in the country,” Sumlin said. “I think he’s very versatile … he’ll be easily one of the top three or four guys that we’ve played against this year, and we’ve played some good ones. I think half the All-American team is in our league in the West.”
Willis has kept up with Garrett since he arrived at A&M and is looking forward to seeing him play Wednesday night.
“I am not going to try and compare myself to Myles because he is a great football player and he is in his own league,” Willis said. “I do study him, though. He has a great takeoff, a great motor, and he is always in the backfield. He is a great football player.”
Snyder’s streak: This is Kansas State’s 20th bowl game, 18th under Snyder, and seventh in a row. Snyder is proud of his success with the Wildcats, but hopes that his players gain more off the field than they do on it under his direction. “In my way of thinking college athletics, college football, is all about building a foundation for the rest of your life,” he said. “And the rest of your life is about becoming successful as a student, a businessman, a family member, with your faith, your family. Whatever it is that’s important in your life, how do you become the best at it? That’s the important thing.”
Bye bye Knight: Quarterback Trevor Knight, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma, will wrap up his first and only season with the Aggies after throwing for 2,122 yards and 16 touchdowns, running for 594 yards and 10 more scores. He missed two games late in the season because of a shoulder injury, but returned against LSU and should be completely healthy for his final college game Wednesday night.
Dual-threat Ertz: Like Knight, Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz is dangerous as a runner. Ertz leads the team and is fifth among FBS quarterbacks with 945 yards rushing and 10 scores. He added 1,560 yards passing with eight more TDs.
1,000-yard club: Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams ran for 1,024 yards this season to become the first true freshman in school history to rush for 1,000 yards. The Aggies have had three redshirt freshman run for at least 1,000 yards, including Johnny Manziel, who holds A&M’s record for most yards rushing by a redshirt freshman after gaining 1,410 in 2012 when he won the Heisman Trophy.
Texas A&M vs. Kansas St.
8 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN