Kansas University linebacker Collin Garrett wondered what he’d done wrong.
Last Tuesday afternoon, while he was resting in bed after class, Garrett’s cell phone started ringing.
The call was from KU coach Turner Gill.
“I thought I was in trouble,” Garrett said.
Turned out that it was desperation — and not discipline — that prompted Gill to contact the freshman.
Following a rib injury to linebacker Huldon Tharp, the Jayhawks had few options to play in case middle linebackers Steven Johnson or Darius Willis was injured.
So after being told previously by KU linebackers coach Vantz Singletary that he would red-shirt this year, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Garrett was asked by Gill if he’d be willing to burn his red shirt to play against the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners.
The freshman agreed to do whatever the team needed.
“I was fine with that (a red shirt). Just a year to get better, just keep working,” Garrett said. “But when my number got called, I had to step up and go do it.”
Stepping in wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
For the previous two weeks, KU’s coaches had moved Garrett to the scout team.
That means after Garrett received instruction from the defensive coaches for about 10 minutes in individual drills, the rest of his practice was spent trying to help prepare the offense.
Even KU defensive coordinator Vic Shealy admitted, because of Garrett’s time on scout team, that he hadn’t “been coached a lick really for about a month.”
Garrett stuck close to Johnson, who helped him make sure his technique was correct.
Before the game, Johnson also gave Garrett some advice, telling him not be nervous.
That turned out to be difficult.
“I remember when I first got out there and I first lined up ... I looked to my left and I saw (Ryan) Broyles, and I looked to my right, and I saw (Kenny) Stills,” Garrett said, “and I was like, ‘Dang, this is the real deal.”
Garrett was productive in his debut.
In about 15 snaps against OU, he recorded four tackles. That included his first tackle, where he shed an offensive lineman before making the play.
“Hearing my name up there, it was kind of just like an awe moment,” Garrett said. “Like, ‘I finally did it.’ It was pretty cool.”
It also enjoyable for Garrett’s family back home.
After receiving the phone call from Gill on Tuesday, Garrett delayed the celebration in his dorm room to call his mother, Lisa Gloude.
“Mama,” he told her, “I’m going to be playing on ESPN.”
Gloude started screaming.
Though she couldn’t make it to Lawrence on short notice, Gloude threw a party at her house Saturday. She invited about 50 people — uncles, aunts, cousins and friends — to watch the game.
On Sunday, Garrett received a text message from his uncle, Trevence King, showing some video of Saturday’s get-together; many of Garrett’s family members and friends were cheering wildly.
“That pretty much made my day,” Garrett said.
Both Gloude and Garrett’s aunt, Hope King, have made plans to be in attendance at today’s game against Kansas State.
Garrett especially wants to play well in front of his mother, who raised him as a single parent and worked up to three jobs at a time to help provide for him growing up.
“My mom is the whole reason I’m up here,” Garrett said. “All of this — all me playing, doing anything — is more for her than it is for me, because I just want to make her proud.”