'An old soul in a freak body:' The contradictions of Myles Garrett

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Take a stroll through the playlists of Texas AM players, and you’re likely to find a lot of similarities.

There’s a lot of Drake. Future. Jeezy.

Until you reach Myles Garrett’s playlist, where the first song is “Sway,” by Dean Martin. Scroll further down and you’ll notice a trend. Whether it’s The Temptations, Earth, Wind Fire or The Isley Brothers, it’s clear that Garrett’s taste in music is anything but contemporary.

He doesn’t really listen to old-school RB before a football game, does he?

“Oh yeah,” Myles Garrett said. “It gets me comfortable, gets me ready.”

It doesn’t just stop there. The 2015 Lombardi Award finalist is known best for his on-the-field exploits (24 sacks, 34.5 tackles for loss in his first two seasons and No. 1 on Mel Kiper’s first 2017 Big Board), but the junior’s off-the-field interests are as unique as his music taste when compared to his peers.

“He’s a laid-back dude,” said defensive end Daeshon Hall, one of Garrett’s closest friends on the team. “Doesn’t really do anything except play basketball, listen to old-school music and read books. Sometimes we’ll be watching movies and he’ll go out in the lobby and read a book. He’s a different guy.”

Say hello to Myles Garrett, All-SEC defensive end, big-time NFL prospect and the oldest soul in college football.

“He’s an old soul in a freak body,” Hall joked.

Music

As his playlist indicates, Garrett favors music created before he was born.

“He never liked regular music,” said his mother, Audrey Garrett. “He never liked rap. If Sean [Williams, Myles’ older brother] turned on some rap, Myles closed his door. … It was like noise to him. But if you turned on some old-school music, he would sit there bopping his little head.”

Myles’ favorite artist: Marvin Gaye. His favorite female artist: Anita Baker.

“I grew up with Ray Charles playing in the car all the time or playing in the house,” Myles said. “I grew up with Marvin Gaye and sometimes Dean Martin and Frankie. So I turned to everybody else who was in the era. I went to Elvis, Teddy Pendergrass. I kept expanding and it just went from there.”

Audrey said they played everything from Ella Fitzgerald to The Gap Band during Myles’ childhood. And his interest spans genres. He recently made a request — which was fulfilled — for “No One Like You” by The Scorpions to be played at a recent practice.

“He has some variety,” Hall said. “He doesn’t listen to just all old school. He listens to some hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Love songs are Myles’ staple, though.

“He loves love songs,” Audrey said. “The baby is a romantic at heart.”

Social media

These days, everyone seemingly is on social media. Players, coaches, recruits, athletic directors.

Everyone except Myles Garrett.

He once had Twitter and Instagram accounts. Last offseason, when he was sitting at home in Arlington, Texas, he deleted them both. “It’s just unnecessary,” he told his parents. “There’s too much foolishness on there.”

He hasn’t missed it and hasn’t returned. No Snapchat. No Periscope. Nothing.

“I mean just to see how much time is consumed looking down at your phone when you could be reading, becoming better at your own language or learning a new language,” Garrett said. “You could be doing so many productive things. You could becoming a better student-athlete. While they’re scrolling down and looking through and trying to find something funny or something else, I’m just trying to be the best I can and maximize my potential.”

“He goes from kind, sweet, lovable to once that whistle blows, it’s like, ‘Hey, he’s trying to kill everything in the room.”

Texas AM WR Ricky Seals-Jones

Audrey said Myles became annoyed by Twitter users who would hurl insults at him.

“He’s not that dude who’s going to stand up and do a whole bunch of cussing at you and go back-and-forth,” she said. “He always felt that ‘My skills will show what I can do. I don’t need to run my mouth.’ That’s just how he’s always dealt with it.”

Recently, when Audrey found something on her timeline she wanted to show Myles, he told her he didn’t want to see it. He doesn’t want any outside noise to impact him mentally.

Garrett’s teammates aren’t ready to go that far.

“I feel like some people are thinking about deleting their social media to get focused,” Hall said. “But I like watching videos and stuff, so I’ll keep mine.”

Audrey acknowledges Myles might have to change that stance once he makes it to the NFL.

“One of the things we have to consider when Myles goes to the next level — knock on wood — is that he is going to have to have a social media presence,” she said. “We’re probably going to have Brea (Myles’ older sister) do that component for him. He’d be like more like Barack Obama and when he has something to say, he’ll sign it ‘MG15’ or something.”

Books and poetry

Don’t expect to catch Garrett binge-watching TV shows on Netflix or playing Pokemon Go. In his downtime, he has a book or a pen in his hand.

“He writes poetry, reads a lot of poetry,” receiver Ricky Seals-Jones said. “You go in the locker room in a couple hours and if he’s not sleeping, he probably has a book and is reading a book.”

On the bedroom wall, Audrey still has a framed poem Myles wrote for her as part of an elementary school project. “He talks about wanting to be a professional football player, he talks about mommy loving him.”

He also handwrites letters to people, including his girlfriend, and his penmanship won handwriting contests in grade school.

Myles has made no secret of his interest in dinosaurs. Family members and teammates alike acknowledge that dinosaur-related books dominate his reading list.

“Dinosaur books were always around for birthdays and Christmas,” Audrey said. “That’s why he knows all their names and can identify them.”

After his first QA session with local media last year, Garrett gave reporters some “homework”: to identify the largest carnivorous dinosaur. (The answer was spinosaurus aegyptiacus. Say that three times fast.)

Favorite players

Ask Garrett who his favorite player is, and the answer you’re most likely to hear is also unconventional for someone his age: the late Deacon Jones.

It’s fitting. Jones played the position Garrett does (defensive end) and is credited with inventing the term “sack.” The NFL Hall of Famer was also known for his “head slap,” which was legal in his era but is no longer.

Garrett’s interest in players from former eras was sparked by his position coach at Martin High School in Arlington: Anthony Gonzales, now a head coach at Lovington High in New Mexico. “Coach Gonzo,” as Garrett and many others call him, was the first to show him clips of Hall of Famer pass-rushers Bruce Smith and Lawrence Taylor.

“[After that], I went to Derrick Thomas and kept on going further back to look at my predecessors, people who came before me who changed the game and how they played,” Garrett said. “I know I wanted to be one of those types of players. I watched them and see how they approached the game, how they got off the ball, what kind of workouts they did, how they approach the field every day.”

The guy with eclectic music taste and a laid-back demeanor is anything but on the football field, though.

“He’s a great guy, but once he puts on those pads, he’s a different person,” Seals-Jones said. “He goes from kind, sweet, lovable to once that whistle blows, it’s like, ‘Hey, he’s trying to kill everything in the room.’ “



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