The chips and dip are ready. The television is set for kickoff. But more than the ever popular commercials, Garner residents will be watching one of their own on the football field this Sunday.
Chris Culliver, a 2007 Garner Magnet High School graduate, will take to the field at the Superdome for the 47th Super Bowl.
In his second season, the San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback couldn’t be more excited. And the community is excited for him as well.
“The Trojans are ecstatic for one of our own to make the Big Dance,” GMHS supporter Phillip Ayscue said. “Those of us who watched Chris and his Trojans play knew it was just a matter of time.”
Culliver, 24, has learned that it’s not all about showing off his own skills, but rather helping to make the team the best in the league.
“It’s not all about myself,” Culliver said. “I pick up a lot from the older guys.”
And playing for 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, he has learned that his spot on the team has everything to do with integrity as an individual and a team.
Still, Culliver plans to take on the Baltimore Ravens’ offense just like he would during any other game.
“We have to do the same thing we’ve been doing all year,” he said.
Culliver got his start in Garner. While he learned the safety position really well, he performed on offense as a receiver and running back. That helped him at the University of South Carolina where he played as a safety and eventually cornerback along with a position on special teams.
Culliver ranked third in SEC history for kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage when he left South Carolina.
At Garner, Culliver also learned from former head football coach and current athletic director Nelson Smith that things happen for a reason. He could achieve his goals if he really wanted them and went after his dreams.
Former athletic director at GMHS Doc Harrell is excited to see one of his athletes play on a national level.
“It definitely brings more interest to the game,” Harrell said. “It’s just a reflection of the coaching staff (at GMHS).”
And now, Culliver has 47 tackles and two interceptions to tout for his 2012-13 season so far.
Culliver isn’t the only Trojan to see a field in the NFL. Brandon Banks, another 2007 Garner grad, plays for the Washington Redskins. The two met in the 2011 season when the 49ers held off the Skins for a 19-11 win in week nine.
“I got to tackle him,” Culliver said of his old teammate.
And Garner is ready to see him make a few more tackles this Sunday.
Contact Kelly Griffith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-552-5675.