STILLWATER – Brandon Garrett couldn’t look.
His mom, Tammy Helms, didn’t want to look.
Still, they knew it was bad – really bad – by how squeamish everyone was acting on the field last January in the Cotton Bowl, after Garrett’s lower left leg had been rolled and snapped.
A Tib-Fib fracture as it’s known, with both the tibia and fibula broken.
Garrett knew by the sound – crack!
And by the pain.
“I remember, I kept trying to breathe and stay conscious,” said Garrett, who started that Cotton Bowl game for Oklahoma State at right tackle.
“I feel like I knew right away what happened, although I never suffered an injury like that. I just laid on the ground, trying to not look at the leg and trying to hold it together at the same time.”
Garrett has rehabbed and worked to make it back, just in time, oddly enough, to return to his own personal house of horror – AT&T Stadium for Saturday’s matchup with No. 1 Florida State.
That was the scene of Garrett’s gruesome injury nearly eight months ago.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Garrett said, “that something like that could happen and then go back to the same stadium, same atmosphere, play another huge game. Pretty amazing.
“It’s always going to be in the back of my head. But at the same time, I’ve got to approach it just like any other game. I’m not going to worry about what happened before, although it might be there a little bit. I’m just going to do my thing, prepare with the team and try to get a win.”
Garrett joined the Cowboys last year from Trinity Valley Community College. He played in 11 games and started four, including the final two.
On the first play of OSU’s second series, Garrett was blocking downfield on the linebacker, clearing the way for a Desmond Roland gain.
“Just out of nowhere, I collapsed,” Garrett said. “I was told that someone was trying to dive and make the tackle, and came onto my leg.”
Garrett still doesn’t know because he still hasn’t watched the play on tape.
And he has no plans to do so.
“Not for quite some time,” Garrett said.
Zac Veatch, one of Garrett’s linemates, saw Garrett down. And saw a leg that didn’t look so much like a leg.
“I saw what happened and I looked,” Veatch said, “it was shocking”
As the play developed, Tammy Helms sat in the stands, chatting with another fan about how well things had turned out.
“I was talking to the lady next to me about them playing and how exciting it was for Brandon in his first year, to be playing in the Cotton Bowl,” Garrett’s mom said. “And all of a sudden I look up and I see a player on the field. Of course, you’re worried who it might be. Then I see him lean up and I say, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s his number.’
“Here I am, second row from the field. I’m like, ‘How do I get to him?’”