USC grants scholarship to former South Tahoe High School player |

USC grants scholarship to former South Tahoe High School player

Steve Yingling / Tahoe Daily Tribune

If you felt a strong gush of wind from the south on Monday, it probably was Nick Garratt exhaling.

The University of Southern California football team recently made the former South Tahoe High linebacker a scholarship player. USC coach Pete Carroll sprung the news prior to a film session, prompting his Trojan teammates to shake Garratt and sprinkle him with confetti.

“It’s something I’ve always hoped for,” Garratt said. “It’s a good feeling personally, but this is not where it ends. I have to start playing. I really have to get on that field more than I have.”

Garratt has seen some spot duty on special teams and linebacker since walking on to the program in 2005 but has earned the respect of his coaches through hard work and dedication.

“His hard work and dedication epitomize the Trojan spirit,” Carroll commented on the USCRipIt blog last weekend. “Nick’s a great part of this team.”

With USC loaded at linebacker, Garratt has focused his effort on earning playing time on special teams.

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“We have three All-Americans at linebacker right now, so it’s pretty tough there right now,” he said. “I’m on the depth chart on all four special teams.”

Despite his reserve status, Garratt has been given enough repetitions at linebacker to make him game ready. He has risen to second team Sam backer behind Brian Cushing.

“This has probably been my best camp, plus one of my hardest-working camps,” Garratt said. “I’m going with the twos and threes, because they are not making Cushing do too much work to make sure he doesn’t get hurt. It’s good for me. I’m getting on film a lot more, and the coaches can see how tough I am.”

Garratt approached preseason camp like it was his final season with the Trojans.

“I went in thinking that this may or may not be my last year, so I just went (all) out during camp, and then we’ll see what happens,” he said.

The scholarship comes at a good time for Garratt, who held a summer job and has been paying for his education through student loans.

“I’m trying to be independent,” Garratt said. “This definitely makes life a lot easier in terms of finances. I don’t have to worry about all of the loans I have to pay back after college.”

Garratt has also noticed that his coaches treat him differently now that he is on scholarship.

“I have a little more respect. A lot of the coaches turn their shoulders toward me instead of away (when they are speaking to me). The team has invested money in me, so they want to see if I can make a dent into the system,” he said.

Even though he now receives the perks bestowed on a scholarship player, he won’t take them all.

“During the season you can work out at 11 (a.m.) if you are a scholarship player; walk-ons and freshmen have to work out at seven, eight, nine or 10. I’ll still work during the early times to get it over with,” Garratt said.

USC, the Associated Press’ third-ranked preseason team, opens its season Aug. 30 at Virginia.