2015 Archives

A game SMU's Garrett Krstich will never forget


The following is from the Nov. 11, 2015, edition of The Washington Post.

December 22, 2015

By Dan Steinberg

A few weeks after Garrett Krstich had surgery to repair three tears in his labrum last January, SMU released its 2015 football schedule. Among the road trips was a Nov. 14 game, in Annapolis, against Navy.

See coverage of Garrett Krstich at Navy

At the time, Krstich could barely throw a football five yards. He was a walk-on who had already played four seasons, and who couldn’t afford graduate school. The Mustangs had a new coach and a highly touted quarterback in junior Matt Davis. Krstich had no idea whether his career was over, but it sure didn’t seem promising.

“Honey,” his mom told him, “I think it’s time to move on.”

Krstich had other ideas. He wanted to finish his career with his friends, his classmates who would remain on the team as fifth-year seniors. And he wanted to play a game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where his father Jeff once starred for the Midshipmen. Jeff proudly had showed a teen-aged Garrett the stadium in 2007, during a trip to Maryland for the Army-Navy game. Garrett, then a freshman in high school, toured Navy’s locker room, tried on a Navy helmet and tossed a football with a friend while walking around campus. It’s one of his final memories with his father; a few weeks later, Jeff died suddenly after suffering a heart attack during a pickup lacrosse game. . . 

“When I found out about this game, it just switched [something] in my mind,” Krstich said this week.  “I was like, I’ve got to be there. I’ve got to be playing on the team. I’ve got to be involved somehow — even if it’s just being a signaler. I’ve just got to find some spot on the team, so I can take that field.”

So Krstich went to spring practices, even though he wasn’t physically able to participate, a quarterback who couldn’t throw. He went through summer two-a-days, even though he had no idea whether he would be on the team. And a few days before school was scheduled to start, new coach Chad Morris announced in front of the team that Krstich was getting an athletic scholarship for a final season. That meant, among other things, a second trip to the Naval Academy, this time in the final weeks of his football career, surrounded by family and friends.

“Isn’t it crazy?” asked Gwyn Krstich, Garrett’s mom. “Life didn’t turn out as we planned, but then there’s this.”

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