Only a few hours into the second day of the new year, Troy University lost JaDarius Garner, student and football player.
According to The Dothan Eagle, Garner was found about 42 miles south of his hometown, Clarksdale, Miss. after being struck by two cars. The Mississippi Highway Patrol is still investigating his death.
“This is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers go out to JaDarius’ family in this time of grief,” Troy head football coach Larry Blakeney said. “JaDarius was a well-respected member of our football team and his loss will be felt by all of us.”
Garner transferred from Jones County Community College in Mississippi. The 20-year-old sophomore played defensive end during the 2013 season and was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 9, 2013.
During the Savannah State game on Sept. 7, 2013, Garner had two sacks for a loss of 20 yards and three tackles for a loss of 22 yards. He had a total of six tackles, five of which were solo tackles.
“On the field he is probably one of the only people I know who’s ever gone 110 percent every rep,” sophomore defensive end Tyler Roberts said. Garner played back up for Tyler Roberts during the 2013 season.
“He had a motor and he never stopped, whether he came on the field or came off,” junior linebacker Mark Wilson said. “Same in the weight room, he was one of the first guys there and one of the last to leave.”
JaDarius was a joyful person who was known as the voice of the locker room.
“JaDarius was a guy that everyone loved to be around,” Wilson said. “He was a jokester. He was a man of many talents. He was always singing, rapping, making all types of noises, he did it all.”
One of Wilson’s fondest memories with Garner was the summer before last when Wilson, Garner and a fellow roommate made a rap video while just hanging out.
Garner was commonly known for his smile despite circumstances and made a point to challenge his teammate Roberts during practice.
“Every time you saw him he was smiling, if he was having a bad day he was smiling, a good day he was smiling,” Roberts said. “He was always singing too, every time I walked into the meeting room he was singing something.”
When Garner wasn’t playing football he was constantly visiting the library and both Roberts and Wilson agreed that Garner valued his education. He was a math major and once said that he wanted to become a teacher back home to help kids get out of bad areas one math problem at a time.