In the off season, you'll most likely find Garrett Reynolds in the gym. He'll be lifting weights, jumping rope-- whatever it takes. And, it's paid off. Now a free agent, the offensive lineman spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons.
"It's been a great journey, and I've been very blessed," he said.
For Reynolds, professional football may seem like a given especially with his pigskin pedigree. His dad played at Tennessee and so did his uncle, Jack "Hacksaw" Reynolds, a first round draft pick and two-time super bowl champion.
"Of course, I was a TN Volunteer," he said.
It may be hard to believe, but Garrett never played the game until eighth grade!
"I played every other sport you can think of."
Swimming, gymnastics, basketball, baseball, travel soccer, even rugby. But football was an instant connection.
"I just fell in love with it from the start."
And, it showed. His freshman coach definitely saw playing potential.
"He told me, 'Man you're going to go Division 1.'"
But all Reynolds could think about was starting the varsity team and he did his sophomore year.
"We didn't win a whole lot of games while I was here, but we worked our butts off and I wouldn't trade those memories for the world."
And then, college letters started coming in. Naturally, Tennessee was a top choice.
"I was a huge fan, but at the time, I was tall and skinny. I think I got a preferred walk-on offer."
So, Reynolds decided between University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Nebraska and Virginia Tech.
"I thought I had a better opportunity at UNC and I did. I wouldn't take it back for the world."
Reynolds started for the Tar Heels as a sophomore and served as team captain his junior and senior year.
"Senior year, I was like maybe I can make the NFL work out."
That dream became reality day three of the 2009 NFL draft. Reynolds was watching it on TV with friends, but decided to take a break.
"Put my phone on vibrate and laid behind the couch while everyone was watching it. I fell asleep. About 10 minutes later, my phone starts vibrating. I pick it up and it was the Falcons, so it was a great day!"
And, Reynolds enjoyed his five seasons with the Falcons.
"First four years we did very well. Last year, of course, was not the best season."
He was released from the team in February. So, he's continuing his workouts and is busy with training camps and volunteering.
"No matter whether you realize it or not, you have younger kids looking up to you."
This is why Reynolds tries to stop by Carter High School when he comes home to visit.
"It's fun to see all these guys come out here and work. They're out here just working for the love of the game."
Even though his NFL future is uncertain, he's excited about the possibilities.
"No matter what happens, I'll be a happy camper."
Garrett Reynolds, Born in Strawberry Plains.
"This is always going to be home- a place that I cherish."
HomeGrown in Tennessee.