An overlooked prospect in high school, outside linebacker Chris Garrett's options were also limited.
He said he had lots of walk-on opportunities, but because of his family's financial situation, he couldn't afford to walk on to a school like Wisconsin. So he landed at Division II Concordia-St. Paul because it offered him the most money.
Even though it was a smaller school, it would not deter him from his ultimate goal of getting drafted into the NFL.
"Playing at a small school and getting noticed, you have to stand out a lot," Garrett said during a video conference with reporters after getting drafted 252nd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. "You have to make plays, you have to do all the extra stuff too so when they see your film, they know you're different than everybody else you're on the field with. I think I did that just with how relentless I played. Every other play I'm trying to get the ball out and just in my pursuit of the quarterback, for an example, I don't think it was matched. I don't think it was matched just how relentless I've played."
Such is the approach he brings with him to the Rams after they used their final selection on him in the seventh round on Saturday.
Prior to his arrival in Los Angeles, that approach manifested itself at or near the top of multiple program and Division II record lists, including:
- Setting the career Division II forced fumbles record with 15
- Averaging the third-most sacks per game in Division II history with 1.30
- Setting the Concordia-St. Paul program record, ranking 13th in Division II history with 36.5 career sacks
- Ranking 14th in Division II career history with 1.73 tackles for loss per game
All in just 28 games over three seasons.
"A small school kid who basically destroyed that league, but a fun player to watch," Rams general manager Les Snead said Saturday. "Has some initial juice that really gave him an edge in that league and the sacks in the amount of games speak for themselves."
That edge will fit in well within a front seven featuring edge defender Leonard Floyd and defensive lineman Aaron Donald.
"Big impressions – (DL) Aaron Donald, you have to start there. You see that man right in the middle and you're going to get a couple of free sacks just because of that. So, to say I'm excited, that would be an understatement. Just knowing what I know about this defense and how firey they play, I think it definitely matches me more than any other team, for sure."
Of course, that doesn't mean Garrett will get complacent. As those who helped him along the way have recognized, Garrett remains far from satisfied.
"Just the passion that I have in my life. Who I am as a person, I'm just passionate," Garrett said, when asked what those people saw in him. "That's all I know is to just give 100 percent. So that is really what they saw, just a kid who was willing to give everything to reach his goals."