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Myles Garrett overcoming high-ankle sprain a 'testament to who he is as a person'

CANTON — Myles Garrett looks the part and can play it, too.

The new Browns defensive end and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick appears as if he were assembled in a football factory and produces accordingly on the field, notching 30 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M.

Of course, that all played a role in Cleveland's decision to make Garrett the first of three first-round picks in the two weeks ago. But Garrett's competitive spirit and mental fortitude, said vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry on Monday, were equally as impressive over the course of evaluating the Aggies' standout edge rusher.

"A lot's been written about his physical talent, but probably not enough is disclosed about his mental toughness," said Berry, who spoke to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club in Canton.

Berry, who oversees the Browns' scouting pro and college scouting efforts, traveled to Arlington, Texas, in September to watch Garrett and Texas A&M play Arkansas. It's also the game where Garrett — long thought to be the best-overall player in the draft class — suffered a severe high-ankle sprain that would have sidelined most players.

"I remember seeing the block where he got cut by the left tackle and thinking, 'man, I traveled all this way and spent all this time and he's probably not even going to be able to finish the game, he'll probably be influenced for the rest of the season,'" Berry said.

That's when Berry, who was well aware of Garrett's athletic gifts, gleaned an important and, perhaps, new piece of information.

"I remember him going to the sideline, getting it taped up on the outside of his shoe by the athletic trainer and running sprints down and back on the Texas A&M sideline while his offense had the ball," he said.

"And this was an injury, really, he shouldn't have gone back in the game, I thought there was no chance he would return and because of the competitiveness and because of the passion he has for his teammates he came and really, quite honestly, on one leg played for an entire second half and played high-quality football."

Garrett, who helped lift the Aggies to a 45-24 win that night, went on to finish the 2016 season with 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 33 tackles.

To be sure, it was "one of the worst foot injuries I've had, and I fractured a growth plate when I was in high school in a weightlifting accident," Garrett said at a post-draft press conference. "That didn't hang on for so long. It was a thing, it healed up and it went right back to working, but that ankle sprain hung on for a while."

It was so bothersome, Garrett said, that Texas A&M afforded him the opportunity to sit out and recover. That wasn't going to happen, he said.

"They wanted me to get some rest, but I love my guys too much to sit out and have to watch them without me," he said. 

"I know I wanted to be there and struggling and grinding with them. I wanted to do my best for them because they deserve it. So do the coaches, the fans and everybody else who was part of my time at Texas A&M."

It was a moment that struck a chord with Berry and the Browns. So months later, they made the decision to add him to a young Cleveland team in search of cornerstone players. Garrett, they believe, can be just that -- high ankle sprain or not.

"I think it's really a testament to who he is as a person and who he is as a competitor," Berry said, "and we're really excited to have him on our roster."

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