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Hart's Garrett Updegraft has only one speed

Hart linebacker known for his non-stop nastiness on the field

Posted: August 26, 2013 10:59 p.m.
Updated: August 26, 2013 10:59 p.m.

Hart senior linebacker Garrett Updegraft is known for his relentless and intimidating style on the football field.

 

"Maniac." "Scary." "Crazy." "Nuts." "Beast."

Who is Hart linebacker Garrett Updegraft? According to multiple Indians’ teammates, he’s all of those things.

But on the football field, that’s definitely not a bad thing.

“Just the way he plays. He plays with such a motor,” says Hart offensive and defensive lineman Blake Porter. “It’s crazy, almost like he’s possessed. A million miles an hour on every play. You have to be aware of him.”

And that’s because the 18-year-old Updegraft isn’t just good at hitting quarterbacks and ball carries — he relishes it.

As a freshman in high school he was called out during his only season of high school baseball for running directly into the shortstop.

“I was a freshman in high school playing a spring game and I hit the shortstop and they called me out,” Updegraft says. “He stepped up in the base path and I lowered into him. I was kind of mad. I’m just trying to get to the other base without getting tagged out, so I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

Shortly there after, Updegraft stepped off the baseball diamond for good. It just wasn’t for him.

Football, though, is his passion.

Updegraft started playing with the Warriors youth program at 8 years old.

But that passion didn’t show right away.

“He said he wasn’t sure if it was for him after the first week of hitting,” says his mom, Susan Updegraft. “When he started hitting he was with his dad and he said he wasn’t sure he was going to be any good at it.”

It only took about a month for Garrett to figure out he was wrong.

“When he was 8, he literally walked off the football field and thanked us for putting him in football,” Susan says. “We got in the car and football practice was over and he said ‘I wanted to really thank you and dad.’ He knew it was kind of hard and he wanted to thank us for putting him in and signing him up.’”

Since then, he’s never stopped loving the game.

“It’s indescribable. I love a tackle for a loss, a sack. The feeling is indescribable,” Updegraft says. “You get into such a high with it.”

“I love when other players are intimidated by you or need to call out your number so they know someone has you.”

And his teammates love watching him create problems for the opposition.

“He always has his on switch on,” says Hart quarterback Brady White. “The on/off switch never goes off, it’s always on. Which makes him a nuisance for a quarterback. He’s an overall problem for offenses.”

Garrett is such a nuisance on the field, that White himself says he was scared of the upperclassman when they first stepped on the field together.

“Before I got to know him he was kind of terrifying. He’s kind of crazy,” White jokes. “It’s great to know he’s on my team.”

But there’s a funny thing about Updegraft, too.

For all of the ways he’s earned a reputation of being that crazy kid on the field, those around him have opposite ways of describing him as a person.

“Laid back.” “Calm.” “Cool.” “Mild-mannered.” “Caring.”

“On the field, he is a nut. He is definitely a scary dude. He doesn’t stop, he has no ‘off’ switch,” Porter says. “Here’s the thing about him. He is such a nice guy and genuine guy off the field.”

When Updegraft gave up baseball four years ago, it wasn’t for a lack of motivation, but rather a desire to open up a spot for someone as passionate about baseball as he was about football.

“The coach had told him he would make the team and he kind of came to (his father) Jean and I and said, ‘I’ll do my freshman year but my heart’s not in it. I’m taking a position away from a kid that really wants it and I don’t,’” Susan says.

And that’s a prime example of the kind of person Garrett it.

A motivated, self-starter ready to give 100 percent on the field of play, and accomplish his goals off it.

He once had his mother wake him up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday so that he could go running on the paseos and bleachers at Hart High — at the age of 13.

He’s always the one taking charge on defense, calling out plays and genuinely acting like a madman to hype up his teammates.

And he’s also the one coming after your quarterback — and he can’t wait to feel that indescribable feeling when he takes him down.

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