CLARKSTON, Mich. — Everyone has their heroes growing up. For high school football players, it’s not uncommon for names of NFL stars to be mentioned at the top of most lists.
Although Garrett Dellinger is a budding star on the Clarkston football team, he doesn’t get caught up in idolizing the pros. Instead, his heroes are closer to home.
In fact, there are from his home.
“It’s mostly just my siblings, my dad, my mom,” Dellinger said. “I mostly look up to my siblings.”
The fifth in line of six kids, Dellinger has a lot to look up to in a family filled with collegiate sports athletes and military members. When it comes to heroes, Dellinger looks no further than his oldest brother who is a Navy SEAL who played middle linebacker at Kent State.
“My oldest brother is my biggest role model,” Dellinger said. “Because he went through SEAL training and that is the hardest training in the world. If you go through that, you can go through anything. He tells me stories and the stories he tells me are the craziest stories ever.”
Rated as a four-star offensive tackle, Dellinger is ranked No. 15 nationally in his position’s 2021 class. As two-way lineman that has had his fair share of bumps and bruises, Dellinger can always find the motivation to press on when thinking about his brother.
“When I’m doing something and I’m like, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ I think that if my brother can go through SEAL training, I can finish an extra 100 yards,” Dellinger said. “He’s definitely pushing me to become better every single day.”
Dellinger’s pride in his family doesn’t end with his oldest brother. His parents both played Division I basketball at Cleveland State. His oldest sister played two sports in high school before joining the National Guard and then becoming an officer in the Army. He has another sister playing volleyball as a grad transfer at Oakland University. There is another older brother in the National Guard and his lone younger sibling, a brother, plays football and basketball too.
With all the teasing and whatnot that can happen between six siblings, not much really gets to Dellinger, which helps on the football field.
However, despite the teasing, the Dellinger siblings would always stand up for each other. Dellinger adopted that approach with his football teammates as well.
“We can mess with my brother, but if you mess with my brother, that’s not allowed,” Dellinger said.
Considering the long list of athletic success in his family, it’s no surprise that Dellinger is quite a successful athlete. With 10 offers and more to come, many top football programs have an eye on Dellinger. Michigan and Michigan State have both offered him, along with Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Wisconsin and others.
“I’ve kind of built a relationship with mostly — it’s hard to say because all of the schools are so great,” Dellinger. “It’s really hard to just pick a few. Right now, I’m just kind of open to anything and visiting everywhere. I’m just seeing everything, seeing what’s open and what feels best.”
So far, Dellinger has visited Michigan, MSU, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Alabama. He also wants to take a trip to Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn State among others too.
Despite his current 6-foot-6, 280-pound frame, Dellinger started his football days as a running back and cornerback in flag football — mainly because he was bigger than everyone else. Entering sixth grade pushing 200 pounds and already over 6-feet-tall, his days as a lineman were cemented.
Despite playing both ways and being recruited primarily as an offensive lineman, Dellinger doesn’t mind if he eventually picks up some offers for defensive purposes too. In the end, Dellinger is not too concerned with which side of the line he ends up on in college.
“I think I’m an offensive player, but I do like defense more because I think it’s more fun to go tackle someone than block someone,” Dellinger said. “But I feel like I’m better at offense than I am at defense. It’d be awesome to play defense but it’s OK.”
During his sophomore year, Dellinger was even ranked as a five-star recruit. However, he has since been dropped to a four-star. Likely factoring into that is that he tore both labrums and a rotator cuff, causing him to miss out on offseason camps.
In order to make the most of his situation, Dellinger has spent most of his recovery process working on his leg strength.
“It’s getting better,” Dellinger said. “I feel so much better when I’m working out.”
On track to be playing again this fall, Dellinger is looking to take the teamwork mentality that he has witnessed from his family and apply it to the football field.
“I like when everyone comes together, just be able to work as one unit,” Dellinger said. “That’s why I really like the offensive line because if one person breaks down, then the whole play breaks down. But when you see a whole wall of humans just moving everyone, I think that’s just the coolest thing possible. It’s football. Who doesn’t love football?”