PREP FOOTBALL: Fairview’s Garner signs with Jacksonville State

Top row L-R: Bill Dunn, Peggy Dunn, Dylan Garner, Brett Garner. Bottom row L-R: Michelle Garner, Levi Garner, Barry Garner. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. – There was a celebration in the library at Fairview High School Friday morning as another standout Aggie signed to continue their athletic career at the next level. Levi Garner is taking his football talents east to play for Head Coach John Grass and the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Garner has been invited to join the team as a preferred walk-on after an impressive high school career that included 4A second team offensive line honors in 2019, All-County defensive line honors in both his junior and senior seasons and an invite to this year’s Blue-Grey All-American Bowl among several other commendations.

Aggies Head Coach George Redding and his staff always knew they had a special player in Levi but last fall they even began to notice other teams accounting for his impact on the field as well.

“It just seemed like more and more each week last year, we saw that teams were having to scheme and change things because of his presence on the field at both offensive and defensive line.”

Redding has seen Garner grow into an imposing player on the field and become a force on both the offensive and defensive lines but another ability he’s seen develop is his leadership within the team.

“He’s developed so much physically, and you know none of us really have any kind of control over that but what we’ve also seen develop is his leadership ability,” Redding said. “His commitment to his team and his teammates, doing things at a high level and being able to do that every single day is important to him. His willingness to get his teammates to prepare and commit and play at a high level has been great and it has just been an honor and a privilege to be a part of his life and his career here. He’s definitely left a legacy that’s going to live on here for a very long time.”

Levi has been a big part of a lot of big wins at Fairview in the last few years and Redding is excited that he now gets the chance to represent the Aggie program at the next level.

“We’re truly excited that he gets to take the Fairview name over to Jacksonville State and continue to represent our school and our community,” Redding said. “I think there are big things about to happen for him and I think Jacksonville State has got a diamond. When they get him on campus, they’ll see that he will continue to develop and work for their program and his effort will be second to none.”

Some athletes have a difficult time choosing a college to play for but JSU had several factors that made Garner’s decision a little easier for him to make.

“Ever since one of my friends went to Jacksonville State I just always wanted to go there,” Garner said. “It’s close to home, its supposed to be the friendliest campus in the south, they’ve got great football and the coaches have really made me feel at home. It just felt like the right decision right away.”

Stepping into a leadership position on the team wasn’t something that came quickly or easily for Levi but once he settled into that role, he felt a greater connection with his teammates and began to leave a lasting impact on the program.

“That was really big for me,” Garner said. “That was something I struggled with when I first came into high school and I just had to accept that role early on and I’ve really enjoyed leading the team. It helps me connect with the guys and they all look up to me so that’s a great feeling.”

Levi has already started thinking about the next steps he wants to take as a player and is looking forward to joining the strength and conditioning program at Jax State to add to his game.  

“The biggest thing for me is to just add some more size when I get there. I want to add some size and strength and then the rest will come,” Garner said. “I think they’re going to do a great job of developing me and I’m excited to see how it turns out.”

Levi is excited to get begin contributing to the Gamecocks program, but he still has some unfinished business with the Aggies on the diamond before he gets there. Fairview is scheduled to open the 2021 baseball season next week.

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