While Garrett Bolles had some troubled teenage years, the offensive tackle has redirected his life and turned heads last season at Utah.
It has been a long road, filled with adversity, to get to the NFL Draft for offensive tackle Garrett Bolles.
The 6-foot-5, 297 pounder was suspended throughout high school and had some troubled teenage years, at one point living with his Lacrosse coach to get on the right track. Then he embraced religion, and started a two-year Latter Day Saints mission before returning to play football for two years with Snow College.
He latched onto the Universiy of Utah last season, starting 13 games and earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors, and will be a 25-year old rookie once he reaches the NFL.
"My mission was the greatest thing to ever happen to me," Bolles said at the NFL Combine. "I became the man I am today because I've learned. I grew up, I became more mature, I became the man I am. I know what it takes to hard work and wake up and follow a schedule, and that's exactly what you've to do in this business. It's a business and you've got to follow the schedule to be successful, and that's what I plan on doing."
As he met with teams in Indianapolis, and subsequently throughout the draft process, questions have been understandably raised about his teenage years. Bolles has told them the truth.
"They just really want to see what type of man I am, and if I will fall back to my old self," Bolles said. "But you know, I know where I'm going. And I have a plan, I have a mission. When you become a husband and you become a father, you have to sort of grow up and you have to become the person you want to be. And I plan to do whatever it takes. And I don't even know the old Garett, in case you guys were wondering. I don't even know who that old Garett is. I know the new Garett. I know exactly what I want to do, and I'm just grateful to be here. It's a great experience and I'm really looking forward to living my dreams someday and playing in the National Football League."
What excites teams about Bolles is his athletic ability and footwork, which don't seem to be attached to a body as big as his. He moves like a tight end – a 4.95 second, 40-yard dash – and showed off great acceleration in his second and third-level blocks at Utah.
Much like Redskins right guard Brandon Scherff, Bolles prefers to punish his opponents by driving them into the ground and engaging in some extra-curricular play after the whistle.
"When I'm on the field, I want to put people in the dirt," Bolles said. "And that's what I'm here for. As an offensive lineman, you want to be the nasty prick that you can be. And whoever's in front of me, I want to drive them and put them in the dirt. So I'm just going to try to be that every single day. And when I come off the field, I love my family. I just learned how to turn the switch to go back to the new Garett."
Bolles made a big impression in his one year at Utah and showed he could be a dominant left tackle for a team willing to take him. The only concern is his experience, something Bolles hopes will be spun into a positive.
"I think that's a positive thing for me, because that's just less wear and tear on my body," Bolles said. "I've never been cut open, I've never had a surgery, I've never had a major injury. You've got to knock on wood because football is rough game. But I'm here to compete, I'm here to do whatever it takes to win and I'm just … one year or three years makes no difference. I have so much upside, like I said, and I'm just trying to be the best tackle that I can be."
While Bolles continues to face obstacles through this process and have his age, athleticism and background questioned, he knows what he can provide based on what already has in the last few years of his life.
"Many of you guys know my story," Bolles said. "I'm a changed man, and I know exactly what I want and where I'm going. I just got married a year ago. I have a son, so I've got to take care of them and show them what I'm going to do."