Dustin Garrison Talks Football, Family on The Dana Holgorsen Sho - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Dustin Garrison Talks Football, Family on The Dana Holgorsen Show

MORGANTOWN - Dustin Garrison was the first of many West Virginia football players to sit down with The Dana Holgorsen Show when he joined the program for this season’s premiere episode.

The redshirt junior running back is sporting a new hair color this year, a lighter shade that draws a bit of attention his way whenever he sheds his helmet in practice. He credits (or blames?) the look to the lack of excitement that comes with sitting out a season of football.

“I needed something different. My life got kind of boring, so I had to switch it up somehow,” Garrison said. “That’s what a redshirt does to you.”

Garrison knows what it is like to be WVU’s top rusher, but he also knows what it’s like to suffer through an injury while the Mountaineers pile up depth at his position. He knows what it’s like to lose his starting job, then his reps, then his entire season.

What you should know about Garrison is that he’s been through worse. When he was in seventh grade, he and his family were forced to flee the West Bank of New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina tore through his childhood. They took refuge in Pearland, Texas, where he became a star for his high school football team.

Despite a 5A state championship and title of the area’s player of the year, Garrison did not have the sort of recruitment that many running backs with those accolades experience.

The story has been told countless times since Garrison ultimately decided to accept an offer from WVU. His parents have gotten him through each new roadblock, there by his side despite now being more than 1,000 miles away.

“During my senior year, things didn’t go as planned with scholarships and things like that, but my mom just kept me motivated,” Garrison said. “She told me to be patient and things would work out. Since I’ve gotten here, she’s had that same attitude.”

From a 700-yard rusher in his true freshman season to just 50 total carries the past two years, Garrison needed that motivation. The running backs room has added players who came with much more fanfare than Garrison did out of Pearland and their personal expectations are high. So are the expectations for the group as a whole.

Last year, Charles Sims became the feature back despite it being his first and only year in Morgantown. Wendell Smallwood and Dreamius Smith took the rest of the snaps, two players who were also just getting to know the coaching staff. The message is clear: it’s all about what you’ve done for me lately.

“It’s a stacked room in there and the opportunities that you get, you’ve got to make the most of them,” Garrison said. “There are different types of talent back there. We have bigger guys who can run the ball and we’ve got speed back there, too, so it’s good for people like me and [Andrew] Buie and Wendell to also learn the slot [receiver] position. If we want to get a chance on the field, we’ve got to be versatile and that’s one way we can all get on the field.”

Garrison proved himself as a viable receiving threat in 2011 when he reeled in 24 receptions for 201 yards. His versatility isn’t limited to work in the slot, though. Back in the spring, he made a name for himself as one of the bruisers in the Oklahoma drill and that physicality transitioned over into his play in live action as fans in Charleston saw first hand how difficult it was for WVU’s defenders to take Garrison to the ground.

“I’ve been working hard in that weight room,” Garrison noted. “Mike Joseph does a great job of trying to get everybody motivated and one thing that I took pride in was working on my strength. With blocking, I take pride in that now.”

There may not be enough carries available for each of the Mountaineers’ backs to get their hands on the ball as much as they would like, but a guy like Garrison will fight for every last opportunity to make the team better. He has already battled through the adversity of an injury and decreased playing time and the chip on his shoulder continues to grow.

When the ball comes his way this fall, all of the hard work to get back on the field will be put to use. At the very least, he should no longer be bored, looking for a new hairstyle to keep him busy. 

See Garrison's entire interview from The Dana Holgorsen Show above and tune in this weekend as we sit down with the head coach, assistants Ron Crook and Tom Bradley, linebacker Wes Tonkery and offensive lineman Marquis Lucas. 

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