UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Garner has it both ways

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UW freshman Manasseh Garner is enjoying his dual role as an apprentice wide receiver and an apprentice rush end. So what does he prefer? Offense? Or defense?

"It still doesn't matter," Garner said Tuesday. "I've been rotating both ways throughout practice. Basically, it's wherever the team needs me, that's where I jump in."

But does he feel more comfortable on one side of the ball over the other?

"No sir, actually, I feel very comfortable both ways," said Garner, a super polite product of Brashear High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. "I've always been an athlete throughout midget league and high school. It's a God-given thing, just natural. So when the coaches ask me to step in and play both sides, it was a natural thing for me to do. I'm a team player and I just want to help the team out."

Garner expanded his impact to special teams during Saturday night's victory over Ohio State -- so much so that he drew the attention of UW coach Bret Bielema, who noted during his Monday presser that Garner "was a terror on kickoff coverage. He kind of ignited the whole unit."

Bielema later expanded his thoughts on the 6-foot-2, 204-pound Garner. "He's very gifted, he's very fast," Bielema said. "He's got a little bit of an understanding of ball awareness, a football IQ. He's played a lot of football at different positions, so I think his general football awareness is really good."

With each sprint downfield, Garner seemed to gain in confidence, too. "Once he got excited, he got faster on the kickoff every play," Bielema said. "He's a guy that we'll probably get involved a little bit more on the defensive side of things (against Iowa). When we were running out of guys to rush Terrelle Pryor, I about subbed him in without even checking with our defensive coaches just because I knew he would be a guy that had a fresh set of legs that could go out there and run people down."

Garner was excited to be contributing on special teams, especially against the Buckeyes.

"My motivation was to help my team out, and do my job and beat the No. 1 team in the nation," Garner said matter of factly. "Pennsylvania and Ohio don't get along, period, so that was another motivation. We lost to Ohio in the Big 33 game that I played in, so I wanted revenge, I wanted payback."

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I enjoyed your 25 most memorable games at CR, how would you rate the Ohio State game from Saturday.