BY JOHN WILBERT
TUPELO – Goodbye Tupelo, hello LSU.
And goodbye to all the speculation that he'll change his mind.
That's what Tupelo High senior quarterback Chris Garrett symbolically said on Friday morning when he signed his SEC scholarship papers in front of family, coaches and faculty members. The signed documents will allow Garrett, who graduated on Thursday, to officially enroll at LSU for the spring semester and begin working out with the Tigers football team.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback committed to LSU in March and will begin classes on Jan. 12. He plans to major in general business administration.
“I've been wanting to play big-time college football since I've been in the seventh and eighth grade,” said Garrett, who was dressed in a purple and gold tie his father picked out for him. “It's just a dream come true.
“I'm just going to take full advantage of it when I get there.”
For Garrett, who plans on leaving for Baton Rogue at 5 a.m. on Jan. 9, LSU wasn't his original choice.
The Tupelo quarterback grew up a Mississippi State fan and originally committed to State in October of last year. But after paying LSU a visit in February, Garrett decided he couldn't pass up an opportunity to play for the defending national champions.
“Chris wanted to go ahead and commit, and get all that stuff behind him so that he could focus on the season,” said Tupelo head coach Eric Collins, a lifelong LSU fan.
Ironically, neither State nor LSU were his top destination during Garrett's junior season.
“If they had offered, I was going to Alabama,” Garrett said.
Before committing to MSU last fall, Garrett had gone to some of the Crimson Tide's games and realized that the Alabama coaches were not that interested in him. Garrett then moved on from there and didn't think about Alabama again.
Ironically, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, when visiting with Golden Wave receiver Chad Bumphis at the high school on Tuesday, asked Tupelo High head coach Eric Collins about Garrett's commitment to LSU.
Collins then explained to Saban how Alabama was Garrett's first choice before committing to MSU, and that Collins and Garrett had spoken with the Alabama offensive coordinator at the time to see if the Tide were interested.
'Game over' for Alabama
“We called Alabama and Major Applewhite said point blank that he wasn't interested and didn't think that he could play in the SEC,” Collins said. “Game over.”
Saban's response, according to Collins, was that his program now has a new offensive coordinator in Jim McElwain and “Coach McElwain loves the guy.”
“I said, I will mention it to Chris, and if there's any ray of hope I will let you know, but I can tell you now that I believe that Chris is solid with LSU.'”
Realistically, Garrett likes the opportunity he will have at LSU and the direction the Tigers are headed into next season under head coach Les Miles.
“He (Miles) said there is no starting quarterback going into the spring,” Garrett said. “Whoever's the best quarterback coming out of that will have the upper leg going into the fall.
“We've got a four-star receiver committed, another five-star that's a solid commitment that no one knows about, and they're in contention for the No. 1 player in the country who is a wide receiver. So, you are going to have targets to throw to if you go there.”