ATLANTA - Douglass coach Kenneth Barrow got his first look at Garrison Smith from the opposite side of the field.
It was two years ago when Barrow's former school at Mundy's Mill was matched up against Smith's Douglass squad. At the time, he didn't like what he saw.
"I kept asking myself who was No. 56, because we couldn't do anything to contain him," Barrow said. "I never knew his name, so when I got the job here I get out of my car to check out the facilities and the first person I meet in the parking lot I ask, 'Who is No. 56?' Garrison said 'That's me, Coach.' I'm like 'All riiiight!'"
After that first official meeting, Barrow suddenly realized something else. The burgeoning young star would be his for two more years.
"At the time I thought he was a senior," Barrow said. "But he told me 'No, Coach, I've got two more years. Like I said, all I could keep thinking about was that No. 56. I'm just glad he's on my side."
It didn't take long for Barrow to realize just what kind of a special player that he had on his hands.
Along with his duties on the defensive line, Barrow also uses the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder on offense when there is a need.
"Garrison is a total, complete player now. His motor is always running. He plays hard and he's just a dominant football player," he said. "He can take over a team any time he decides to. But outside of all that he's a good kid. He's done what he is supposed to do in the classroom and he's got good character. That's what it takes to be a good football player. He has everything going for him right now."
Barrow said opponents try everything they can to limit the affect Smith has on the game. They're rarely successful.
"Most teams try to run away from him but we'll move him around. We'll put him at tackle, put him at end, put him in the one-technique, the three-technique to keep people from doing that," Barrow said. "They always try to run from him, but the type of player he is he can run them down from the backside because he is always hustling. He gives effort on every play and he wants to make the right play every time."
Humble to a fault, Barrow said Smith's impact has been felt throughout the entire school.
Teammates want to emulate him, classmates gravitate toward him.
But all the extra attention hasn't affected Smith at all. According to Barrow, he's just the same good-natured, friendly young man he's always been since the first day they met.
"He's had a major effect," Barrow said. "The kids look up to him, in the (school) and on the field. All the kids want to emulate him like that. He's helped our program tremendously. The kids (football players) out here want to compete against him because they know he will make them better."
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