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Second Year Profiles: Kirk Garner

Big things were expected from Kirk Garner after fall practice was full of highlight reel plays and praise from coaches. Then, he ended up redshirting. Generally, fans want freshmen to redshirt, because they'll trade that first year, for a 5th year. But once they get hyped, it's hard to see them sitting on the bench. Should Garner have played? Will he be an asset for that 5th year?

Did London make the right call in redshirting Kirk Garner?
Did London make the right call in redshirting Kirk Garner?
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I had planned on going through the second year players in numerical order, simply because it's easy to keep track of. This made Kirk Garner a problem. He was #33 last year, but he changed his number during the offseason to #2. So do I slot him at #2 or slot him at #33. But after writing the Tim Harris profile, it seemed a perfect segue to Garner.

Changing to #2 was an interesting decision. I don't know why he changed his number, since there isn't another 33 on the roster (although there may be when the incoming freshmen are given their numbers). Garner wore #10 in high school. He shares this number with senior WR Dominique Terrell. Considering the depth at CB ahead of him, most of Garner's playing time this season will come on special teams. Taking the number of a senior with potentially both KR and PR duties isn't a great idea. Garner can't ever be on the field along with Terrell, and Garner isn't going to see the field ahead of Terrell. Garner can still play on coverage teams, which Terrell isn't going to be a part of. And obviously, Garner can play on defense since Terrell is a WR.

Garner was a consensus 3 star CB out of Our Lady of Good Counsel HS in Olney, MD. Good Counsel is one of the top HS football programs in the DC Metro area, and the Hoos have 4 players from the program. Upon arriving in Charlottesville last year, Garner impressed right away. During fall training camp, Garner showed up in highlight after highlight. He was praised by the coaching staff, mentioned repeatedly in media reports, and discussed at length on message boards.

The attention was warranted, because Garner is a player. In HS, he played CB, S and WR. He was recruited solely as a CB, although in a pinch he could still play S. He isn't big enough to be an every down S, but he plays bigger than he is and could be an emergency safety. Still, all the hype might have been too much. As a true freshman CB, with 3 older players already ahead of him, playing time was going to be hard to come by.

When the season began, Garner was not on the 2-deep. This surprised some fans who had gotten excited by the highlight reels and hype. But it shouldn't have. Garner wasn't going to play ahead of the upper-class CBs on the roster. And despite all the hype on Garner, his classmate Tim Harris was head of him. This is not an indictment of Garner, but rather a compliment to Harris. Harris is bigger, and if you're picking an inexperienced CB to step onto the field before they're fully ready, you're almost always going to pick the bigger guy.

So Garner redshirted. This is a great scenario for him. He still has 4 years ahead of him. Sometimes, as fans, we get too excited about a freshman and find ourselves disappointed that they are sitting. But in most cases, the redshirt year is great for the development of these guys. In Garner's case, there's a good chance he's a starting CB in 2017. Wouldn't you happily trade a few dozen plays in 2014 for a shutdown CB on what could be a very good defense in 2017?