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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Gardner focused on finishing strong

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Like a number of young people, Tim Gardner has big plans for the future. What makes his approach special is that he has not lost focus on what is important right now.

“I just want to improve, both as a person and a football player,” said the talented offensive guard recently before hitting the practice field. “I just feel fortunate to have great coaches and teammates who have helped me get to where I am today.”

Add modesty to a list of impressive virtues for this young man who has done everything (and then some) his coach has asked of him.

“Tim has a chance to be really special at the next level,” said Lawrence Central head coach Jayson West. “We have often talked about what it would take in terms of hard work and sacrifice and he is clearly on that road to succeeding.”

That indeed is quite an understatement.

The soft spoken Gardner checks in at 6’5” and 320 pounds and along with his great agility, his exploits on the field caught the eye of various schools who were interested in having him be an anchor on their offensive line.

Initially that group included Purdue, Indiana, Louisville and Toledo. But the big picture for Gardner changed dramatically when he attended a camp at Ohio State, a school that he always hoped to play for, and one that has produced a bumper crop of talented offensive line players.

He spoke fondly of attending Ohio State games as a young man with family members and how it has always been a dream to attend school there and compete as a Buckeye. When new head coach Urban Meyer and his staff showed interest in Gardner it was a no-brainer for a young man who clearly has all the tools to play big time Division 1 football and he committed to Ohio State this past July.

With that process completed, he set out to finish his senior year strong and has met the challenge there as well. Lawrence Central is undefeated to date this year and the ability to run the football behind Gardner and company is the mainstay of an offensive unit that is averaging 8.9 yards per rushing attempt and has produced a couple of dozen touchdowns.

While he is indeed mindful of his good fortune, which undoubtedly stems largely due to his work ethic, he shuns the limelight in a fashion that is both low key and impressive considering the focus placed upon him. “I just look to each day as an opportunity to be better than yesterday,” said Gardner, who would like to study engineering in college.

Despite the brightness on the horizon, he still looks at winning a high school championship as his No. 1 goal. “That would mean everything in the world,” he said as he shook my hand and strapped on his helmet. “We have a good team and that is certainly my No. 1 goal.”

Something tells me that if he remains focused and healthy, Tim Gardner will make a lot of noise on Saturdays in Columbus, Ohio, in the years to come. For now, he simply is happy to be a senior on a fine Lawrence Central football team while striving to improve.

While a lot of young athletes become star struck by reading their own press clippings and get somewhat full of themselves, Gardner is a rarity, as he remains humble and dedicated to his team and his studies.

Look for him to be successful in the various challenges life presents, and not just Division 1 college football.

Danny Bridges, who thinks Tim Gardner is an All Star both on and off the field, can be reached at (317) 578-1780.

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