‘Molded’ by his time as a kid in Hawai’i, Haskell Garrett ready to prove himself again at Ohio State with NFL on horizon


Ohio State’s Haskell Garrett celebrates his interception and touchdown against Michigan State during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in East Lansing, Mich. Ohio State won 52-12. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

Nobody would have blamed Haskell Garrett for starting his pro career prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Ohio State defensive tackle who spent years growing up in Hawaii, was prominent on the radar of professional scouts after a standout 2020 college football season in which he stood out as a key cog on the Buckeyes’ defensive line, logging 20 tackles, two sacks and an interception for a touchdown. OSU ended up going 7-1 as national runners-up in a season that was shorter than usual.

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Garrett has already appeared in mock drafts as a potential first-round pick in 2022. As he heads into the upcoming college football season with big expectations for both himself and his team, the former Halawa resident wants to show he’s worthy of the buzz and then some.

“A lot of things went into that decision,” Garrett told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello about his decision to return to college for another year. “I wanted everybody to know I’m not a one-hit wonder. I’ve gone through this process of being at Ohio State, being under (OSU defensive line and associate head coach) Larry Johnson, just to prove again, everybody was thinking, ‘Well, can he do it again?’ I really just want to have no doubts in anybody’s mind that I am who I am and I am what I put on film.”

Since there is no NFL team in Columbus, Ohio, where they Buckeyes play, Garrett will be making another move in his life at the start of his pro career. Before graduating from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Garrett resided in Halawa after moving from Vermont. Regardless of where his journey takes him, a piece of the islands will always remain with him.

“It helped me a lot, it really did, in my development as a young man and it helped me through my transition as a kid,” Garrett recalled about his family’s relocation to the Aloha State. “Moving to Hawaii, I just lost my father, passed away from stomach cancer. It allowed me to reconnect with my roots. I was always intrigued about my Polynesian heritage and where I come from. When I was embraced and moved to Hawaii, it allowed me to really dive into those morals, those values that Polynesian people come from, and it’s allowed me to carry on those values and those morals with me today. I really take it serious. All my tattoos, everything. Everybody always asked me, like, ‘What is it like to be Polynesian? What are those symbols on your arm? Those tattoos, what do they stand for?’ I tell them where we come from and what I represent and I feel like my walk of life has really shown who we are as a people and it’s really developed me as a man, how to walk my walk of life.

“Definitely being there and being around the Polynesian people and all my family allowed me to aspire to take the right path towards my sports and my athletic nature. Who knows what I would’ve done if I were to stay in Vermont where I was previously, I feel that being in Hawaii and being around all the athletes and our family and our culture really molded me into the man I am today.”

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