Dustin Garrison: Redshirt or Play in 2012?


Dustin Garrison (29) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Dustin Garrison has been making great strides towards rehabilitating his knee following the freak ACL tear in walk throughs before the Orange Bowl this past January. He has been pushing himself hard to be sure that he will be available for the Mountaineers this season. What remains to be seen, is what the WVU coaching staff will do with Garrison. Will they redshirt Garrison or will they play him this season? Coach Gillespie will need to weigh the options to make that call.

The factor that has the biggest impact on his decision is how game ready Garrison’s knee is at this point in time. Garrison may be able to have a full range of motion with the knee at this point, but being able to move your knee any way you want is not the same as being able to plant on the knee or make agile cuts on with that knee. Consideration must also be made to whether the knee is ready for contact. Taking shots to a knee that is not fully healed could cause an even more devastating injury to the ligaments.

Redshirting Garrison is the conservative approach. It would allow Garrison plenty of time to rehabiltate his knee and get himself into peak shape for the 2013 season. West Virginia has a healthy Shawne Alston to carry the load if Garrison is unavailable. The Mountaineers would also have Andrew Buie to use for third downs and could look to give some carries to freshman running back Torry Clayton.

The problem with redshirting Garrison: relying on the health of Alston and the hands of Buie.

Alston is a big bruiser that run north and south. He seeks out contact and has had a difficult time staying healthy. Coach Gillespie has to be somewhat concerned with whether Alston can stay healthy for an entire season. Alston also does not have the same explosiveness that Garrison has which could make the running game easier to predict, and subsequently, stop.

Andrew Buie showed some flashes of greatness last season, but also showed a lot of poor ball handling. He had a tough time hanging on to passes out of the backfield and with fumbling. Buie showed well in the Orange Bowl which could be an indication that with the increased coaching and practice reps, he will be able to lock down his ball handling skills. Still, his history of poor ball security has to be a point of concern for this season.

If the Mountaineers were to not redshirt Garrison, it could give the Mountaineers a more dynamic rushing attack. The Mountaineers could mix carries between the shifty, elusive Garrison and the bruising Alston to throw opposing defenses for a loop. The major issue with keeping Garrison on the active roster is when he will be able to go again for the Mountaineers. Ideally, the coaches would love to get Garrison experience against lesser competition early in the season such as Marshall or JMU prior to the start of Big XII play.

If they are not able to get Garrison on the field prior to the Baylor game, it could set Garrison up for disaster. He needs to be able to get back into rhythm against the smaller and less talented defenses prior to going up against those big Texas and Oklahoma sized defenses of the Big XII. If Garrison is not ready for full contact running by the September 15 game against JMU, then West Virginia should redshirt him. While missing Garrison for the 2012 season would be a blow, it would be the best decision for the future of the West Virginia program and for Dustin Garrison’s future.