At 6-foot-8, Garrett Reynolds is accustomed to the view from above the crowd. But as a rookie on the Atlanta Falcons offensive line, he’s finding himself looking up the depth chart for the first time since he was a freshman at North Carolina. The jolly giant who the Falcons picked in the fifth round of April’s NFL draft spoke with The Times sports editor Brent Holloway recently about his background in football, the growth spurt that landed him a college scholarship, and his first Organized Team Activities with the Falcons.Question: You recently got your contract signed with the Falcons. Are you happy to have that business part of the deal out of the way?
Answer: I am, but you know, I didn’t really think about it too much before it was signed. I was more interested in trying to figure out that playbook.Q: You’ve got a family background with the Volunteers and you grew up in Knoxville. How did you not end up at the University of Tennessee?
A: I grew up watching their games and stuff, and going to them with my pops. They just offered me a preferred walk-on though, and I ended up going over to North Carolina on a visit and I absolutely loved it. The teammates seemed great, and you know, I really liked the atmosphere, and I knew if I ever blew out my knee or something, I’d have a great degree to back me up. So it worked out great for me and I wouldn’t change it for nothing.Q: Both your father (Art Reynolds) and your uncle (Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds) have NFL experience. Have they given you any advice as you start your career?
A: The only thing my dad ever says to me about it is ‘work hard.’ You know, it’s just two simple words, but if you do that, everything else will take care of itself.Q: As you’re wrapping up your first OTAs as an NFL player, what are you taking away from it? What’s the experience been like for you?
A: It’s been a great experience. We’ve got an unbelievable older group of guys on the O-line. They’ve been helpful with any questions we have. You know, some places you go, even in college or high school, you get those older guys that don’t want to talk to you or whatever. But this group of guys has been great about helping us out with any questions, making sure we know the answer and moving forward.Q: How tall are you, officially?
A: About 6-7, 6-8, in that area.Q: Have you always been bigger than everbody else?
A: I’ve always been a pretty big guy, but I didn’t really grow a ton until my freshman year of high school. Right when I got to the ninth grade, that’s when I shot up. I went from 5-11 to 6-4 in a few months. It was crazy. But then, you could bump me and I’d be on the ground.Q: So at what point did you start to fill out and start to see that you might have the capability to make a living in football?
A: Well, I really didn’t fill out a lot until I got to college. I went into college at 260, but I had the frame for it, and after my first year I put on about 40 pounds. I played my sophomore and my junior year around 290 to 300, then I played my senior year at about 305.Q: Well, you’ve got a month off from football before you come back in August for training camp. What do you like to do to keep yourself busy or just to relax?
A: I just like hanging out with my friends, my family, my girlfriend, and just chill and do anything. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re around good people, the day is what you make it.