SMU Backup Quarterback Garrett Krstich Gets Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity

The first few moments of the November football game between Southern Methodist University and Navy will stay with SMU quarterback Garrett Krstich forever.

"It was one of the most special moments of my life," he said.

That's because you wouldn't expect the walk-on backup quarterback to start against a good Navy team.

"I'm kind of a behind-the-scenes guy," said Krstich. "I'm a glue guy. I'm not the starting quarterback. I'm not putting up a bunch of points."

Just a year earlier, Krstich thought his SMU football career was over. He had no way to pay for tuition, he needed shoulder surgery and the Mustangs hired new head coach Chad Morris.

"I knew he was a quarterback who couldn't throw a football. That's all I really knew, because he was hurt," said Morris. "But there was much more to it than that. He goes through summer workouts which were tough, goes through fall camp which was really tough still not knowing if he's going to go to school here in the fall."

Three days before the season Krstich's perseverance was awarded as Morris surprised him during a team meeting with a scholarship.

Tuition paid, Krstich was just happy to be on the team, content to help call plays from the sidelines or serve as a holder during extra points.

A rough season filled with losses became more meaningful when SMU traveled to play Navy, where Krstich's father, Jeff, played the game.

"[My father] told all of us in every situation to do what's right, do what's best and do unto others. Those were his three keys to being a good person," Krstich said.

The former football captain and Vietnam veteran loved sharing his passion for Navy football with his son. Jeff Krstich died just weeks after the family's last trip to Annapolis in 2008.

On the night before the SMU game against Navy, the Mustangs gathered for a meeting. Krstich told his teammates his father's memory motivated him to return for this last season and his mother's love was the reason he played the game.

When the speech was over, coach Morris revealed Krstich would serve as co-captain and start as quarterback on the same field his father where his played.

"Winning is a byproduct of doing the right thing," said Morris. "This is the right thing to do, and while we may have not won as much on the scoreboard this year as we're going to win in the future, we've won in a big way in impacting our young men's lives."

"Realizing [my father] had taken that same field and stood where I stood and realizing that he was still with me that day is something I'll never forget for the rest of my life," said Krstich.

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