Keyarris Garrett aspires to make a comeback in 2014 after having his season cut short last year by injury.
The junior wide receiver from Daingerfield, Texas, sees the deep ball to be his best asset.
“I’m like a huge target, something that a defense has to account for,“ Garrett said Monday at Tulsa's media day. “I don’t think (defenders) can just leave me one-on-one. Once I come back and bring that, it will be like a huge boost for the team.”
Coach Bill Blankenship is certainly glad to have him back.
"I'm a better coach if he is out there," Blankenship said laughing. "Keyarris is a big-time match-up problem for defenses. He definitely looks to have his speed back. I think there is still some conditioning mechanisms that we still got to get a little better with him. But when he's fresh, he's very tough match-up for our defense, and that begins to balance things out if you talk about the passing game.
"Part of it is having the ability to have a receiver that can be one-on-one threat," Blankenship said. "If you can have that, then it begins to balance things up, because you have to have a safety over the top of him so he can't be one-on-one all the time."
Garrett (6-4, 221 pounds) had a phenomenal season in 2012, often being depended upon for clutch catches.
That year, as Tulsa marched to the Conference USA and Liberty Bowl championships, Garrett had a team-high 845 yards and nine touchdowns on 67 catches, an average of 12.6 yards per reception. It led to him being a second-team all-Conference USA selection.
However, things didn’t go as planned in 2013. The Golden Hurricane had high expectations to repeat as C-USA champions and Garrett was hoping to contribute with his skills once again.
In the second game of the season at home against Colorado State, Garrett incurred a leg injury after making a reception with a minute and a half left in the game, causing him to have to be carried off in an ambulance.
“When it happened, I didn’t feel it,” he said. “As I was trying to get up, I looked over and my leg was broke, my foot was turned a different way. I was shocked more than anything.”
After the play, Trey Watts had a long run that set up the game-winning 31-yard field goal from Carl Salazar, giving Tulsa a 30-27 win against Colorado State.
That allowed TU to even its record to 1-1 after a season-opening loss to Bowling Green the week before, but it would go on to finish 3-9 and fifth place in the C-USA West Division.
Garrett would finish the season catching seven passes for 68 yards in two games.
“I felt down because I knew I couldn’t be there for my team.” Garrett said.
“It was tough. I never missed a whole season playing football, so it was tough seeing them (the team) out there and I couldn’t do anything to help them. I felt bad, but there was really nothing I could do besides being on the sideline.”
Garrett was able to begin the physical recovery one month later, and he couldn’t start running until March.
While rehabbing, he did a steady routine of lunges, squats and single leg raises to strengthen his quadriceps.
“Trying to strength back up in my quads was the main thing,” he said.
He was able to participate in spring drills, but lightly.
“It didn’t feel comfortable in the spring because I felt too much pain,” Garrett said. “I wasn’t ready physically or mentally. But in the summertime, I felt 100 percent ready to go.”
“I was real excited to get back out there and do everything with the team,” Garrett said.
Tulsa transitions to the American Athletic Conference and has been picked last. But neither Garrett nor his teammates buy into it.
“My first expectation is to win and get back a conference title,” he said. “And second, hopefully, play in a BCS game. After that, everything else will fall in place for me.”