Jeremy Garrett literally went from the football field to the bank when his playing days came to an end at Ole Miss.
Garrett, after playing his final season with the Rebels in 2007, did what was expected after obtaining a master's degree in business from Harding University -- he got a 9-to-5 job as a banker. It just didn't fulfill him the way he felt between the lines, so he walked away.
From there, he walked right back into his "calling," and it mattered little to him that it started at the ground floor.
"It's just the impact that I can have on people as a coach. That was the most important thing for me," Garrett said. "That was important when I was coaching high school and when I coached college. Just impacting people's lives through the gift of coaching."
Now, Garrett's taking that gift to the NFL as the Browns' assistant defensive line coach. He'll work closely with defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, who was a graduate assistant at Ole Miss when Garrett was a player.
"I think we have both grown as coaches," Garrett said. "I bet night and day he has grown from when he was a GA and coached me, and I have grown from when I was a player and starting off my coaching career. So I think we are both at a point that we have grown a ton and we are looking forward to continuing that growth together."
Garrett got out of the banking business in 2010 when he took over as an assistant football coach, head track and field coach, and strength and conditioning coach at Southaven (Miss.) High School, a short drive from where he grew up in Senatobia. A year later, Garrett moved to Nashville to take a position at Ensworth High School.
For seven years, Garrett worked in a variety of roles, including associate director of admissions, assistant track and field coach and assistant defensive coach for the football team. He took over as head coach in 2018, replacing Tennessee Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Ricky Bowers, who won four straight state titles from 2010-13. After leading the team to a 7-5 mark and a playoff appearance, Garrett joined the staff at Vanderbilt University one year later as a defensive quality control assistant. There, among other duties, Garrett worked closely with Jason Tarver, then the Commodores' defensive coordinator who was recently hired as Cleveland's linebackers coach.
"A unique path to getting here but I think that's kind of the beauty of the staff we're putting together," Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Jeremy is certainly a great addition to what we're doing. I love how he's been a high school coach. I love how he was at Vandy and took a chance there to go coach defensive line. Really comes very highly recommended by those guys down there.
"He's a really good person, a former player, which I think always adds some credibility to the room. Excited to have him as part of the defensive line group."
Nicknamed "The Beaver" as a player, Garrett was a four-year letterwinner at Ole Miss, earning recognition on the All-SEC Academic Team and taking home honors as the Ole Miss Lifter of the Year and the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. Garrett played his final three seasons for Ed Orgeron, who led LSU to a national title this past season, and remains in close contact with his former head coach.
"He is a defensive line coach and became a head coach. I think for me being a D-line coach is like, hey, I kind of see myself in him a little bit - especially playing for him," Garrett said. "And then the way he grew and the way he can recruit and the way he coaches, it was awesome to see."
Though he grinded away for years at the high school level, Garrett acknowledges he's come a long way in a short amount of time. The same passion that drove him to walk away from his day job more than a decade ago will carry him through this new challenge.
"I think my role, first and foremost is just to be supportive to coaches. To help them improve and make their life better," Garrett said. "I want to help them become more efficient in their role and to also help our players become more efficient in how they play and how they watch the game and how they view the game and to be able to add my expertise on that end."
Jeremy Garrett's Coaching Background:
2011-17: Ensworth High School, associate director of admissions/assistant track and field coach/assistant defensive football coach/fitness department chair
2018: Ensworth High School, head coach
2019: Vanderbilt University, defensive quality control coach
2020-: Cleveland Browns, assistant defensive line coach