Paul Garrett finishes record-setting GU football career

Published: December 20, 2023

Author: Dave Bell

Paul Garrett finishes record-setting GU football careerIn the 36 years that football has been a varsity sport at Greenville University, no one has amassed career rushing numbers like Paul Garrett.

During his career, the durable running back played in 46 games, setting program-leading marks in rushing yards (6,192), all-purpose yards (7,286), rushing yards per carry (6.86 yards), rushing touchdowns (75), all-purpose touchdowns (82), scoring (492 points), and rushing attempts (902). And he was second in rushing yards per game (134.6) and third in rushing touchdowns per game (1.63). Numbers like that earned him a second-team offensive All-American ranking in Division III by the American Football Coaches Association this past season.

Those prodigious contributions challenged his teammates to be better, and in doing so, it made the team better. For instance, in the four years before he arrived on campus in the fall of 2019, the program record was 12-18; during his four years of participation, the record flipped to 18-12. He was twice named offensive player of the year in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

“His biggest assets are his competitiveness and his hard work,” said Panther Head Coach Robbie Schomaker. “He is relentless, and never leaves anything on the field. Off the field, he can be quiet at times, but on the field, he has an intensity and focus that challenge everyone around him to be their best.”

Paul Garrett finishes record-setting GU football careerSchomaker said Garrett ran “with a violence, a toughness, you don’t often see.” And his ability to quickly accelerate to top speed made him difficult for defenders to contain.

Garrett’s accomplishments are even more notable considering his size – 5-10, 193 pounds – in a sport that is increasingly dominated by large players.

“Size isn’t everything,” Garrett said. “You’ve got to have heart and be willing to work hard. If you make the most of what you’ve been given, good things will happen.”

He learned the value of hard work early in life. Born in Goodwater, Alabama, he was a three-sport athlete – playing football, basketball, and baseball – but football was his favorite. His team, Clay Central High School, won the state football championship his senior year and he was named all-state, primarily for his contributions on defense.

However, when it came time to play at the next level, his options were limited. Greenville University was the only school that pursued him.

Paul Garrett finishes record-setting GU football career“I wanted to get away from home and grow on my own, and Greenville offered that opportunity,” Garrett said. “The program had been struggling, and I took it on as a challenge to be part of building it back up.

“It took a leap of faith to come here, nine hours away from home, but it was like God wanted me here. He opened this door and closed others. The Christian atmosphere here was good for me. It helped keep me focused on the right things. I’ve been surrounded by coaches, professors and others who cared about me as a human being, not just as a football player.”

Garrett’s twin brother, Dewayne, attended Troy University for a year after high school, but transferred to Greenville University before his sophomore year. He also is a member of the GU football team, but he plays on the defensive side of the ball. “It’s been a joy having my brother here,” Paul said.

Garrett settled on a Sport Management major with a minor in Coaching. He hopes to carve out a career in the athletic world and try his hand at coaching.

Paul Garrett finishes record-setting GU football career“I want to be a positive influence on young people,” he said. “I want to help them be their best but encourage them to do it the right way. I’ve had a couple professors here – Doug Faulkner and Jane Bell – who have been very supportive and helped guide me along the way, and I want to do that for others.”

He also gave a shoutout to GU trainer, Mike Peppler, who helped him deal with injuries. “He was a big help to keep me healthy, to get me through the small injuries that come with playing football. Some weeks I was pretty banged up, but I was always able to get back on the field for the next game.”

Garrett completed his degree this fall and has set his sights on extending his football career. He’s planning to move to Columbia, Missouri, where he will work with a trainer to prepare him for professional football tryouts this spring.

“I want to give a big thank-you to the Greenville University community,” Garrett said. “Many people supported me and cared for me, and that was very important to my success. I’m also thankful for my family, my teammates, and the people who have helped me get through the challenges of being a college student and athlete. I didn’t do this journey alone.”

Paul Garrett finishes record-setting GU football career

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