“I lived in Knoxville my whole life,” said the 6-foot-7, 300-pound sophomore. “UT is a great school, but in my personal opinion, their discipline level wasn’t very good. I heard about every time they got into fights. I don’t want to have a teammate that doesn’t know how to act or doesn’t have any self-respect.”
Reynolds’ father, Art, was a Vols linebacker from 1971-73, and played for Charlotte in the World Football League for a season. His uncle, Jack – a.k.a "Hacksaw" (UT Class of ’69), who spent 15 seasons in the NFL, was an All-Pro with the Los Angeles Rams and won two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.
Both accepted Reynolds’ decision and never pressured him to stay close to home.
“My dad is just glad I’m playing football,” Reynolds said. “My uncle is a real cool guy, but I don’t see him too much. He’s sent me some emails while I’m up here.
“I wanted to get out on my own and learn my own experiences.”
So how did North Carolina get its hands on Reynolds, who also held offers from Nebraska and Virginia Tech?
“I loved it over here when I visited Carolina,” Reynolds said. “I remember right after I got in the car when I was leaving, I said, ‘Mom, I’m about ready to commit. I’m pretty sure I want to go here.’
“She and my dad told me to give it a week or two to make sure. I thought that was a pretty good idea, because I was pretty hyped up after hanging out with [Kyle] Ralph and meeting all the guys.”
Reynolds was pressed into action as a true freshman last year, playing in nine games as a reserve offensive lineman. He admits a redshirt season would have been beneficial, but understands there’s no time to look to the past. Reynolds could very well start for the Tar Heels Sept. 2 in their opener versus Rutgers.
“I made the best out of it,” he said about his overall performance last season. “I had some good experiences and some bad – I’ve learned from those, forgotten about them and I’m just trying to become a better player because of them. I just worked hard, listened to the older guys, listened to the coaches, tried to get stronger in the weight room and worked on my quickness getting that first step off the ball.
“I’m really looking forward to Rutgers, but we’ve got to finish getting everything ready. Right now I’m just trying not to make the same mistakes twice.”
Reynolds still has a long way to go to become a complete player, but his desire to get there is never in question.
“Nobody works as hard as Garrett does,” John Bunting said. “He’s got some gifts, but the biggest gift he has is work ethic. He works harder than anybody else.”