When the Baltimore Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night, it will be more than just a clash of two bitter rivals. It will be a homecoming for Steelers linebacker and Baltimore native Terence Garvin.
The Steelers signed Garvin, a graduate of Loyola Blakefield High School, in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of West Virginia University. After going through the draft process and not hearing his name called, Garvin received a call from the Steelers asking him to come in for a workout.
"I was excited for the opportunity," Garvin said. "Coming right off the draft, I really didn't know what was going to happen, but I was excited for the opportunity to show what I can do. I wanted to have a chance to show the things that I felt were being overlooked."
When Garvin was growing up, the Ravens were a team he watched, but he said he wouldn't consider himself a fan. His mother, on the other hand, is a huge fan of the hometown Ravens, but Garvin said she had supported him going to a rival team.
"She was excited for me," Garvin said. "She felt like God put me in the best position to do what I needed to do."
Before joining the Steelers, Garvin worked out at Sweat Performance in Timonium, where Ravens such as running back Ray Rice, wide receiver Torrey Smith and cornerback Jimmy Smith also train. Garvin will make his return to Baltimore and see these familiar faces Nov. 28.
Playing at M&T Bank Stadium on Thanksgiving is not new for Garvin. During his high school years, he played in the annual Turkey Bowl against Calvert Hall. Though the Turkey Bowl is one of the nation's oldest Catholic high school football rivalries, the Steelers' rivalry game against the Ravens will have a different atmosphere.
"It's going to be really exciting to come back home and play in front of everybody," Garvin said. "I'm going to be really excited."
That Garvin will return to the place where he grew up for a professional game will make the game a special night for his family. Garvin credited his parents for helping him reach his current level of success.
Another major influence on his football career is one of his former coaches at Loyola, Brant Hall. Garvin said that from the time he met Hall as a sixth-grader, the two have had a close relationship, both on and off the field.
"That's my man," Garvin said. "He's like family to me now. He was real strict with me. If I did something he didn't like, he would tell me about it. He still does it today."
When Garvin was continuing to grow as an athlete and getting frequent attention from major colleges, Hall made sure he stayed humble, Garvin said.
"He always told me, "Never let yourself get too high, never let yourself get too low and always stay grounded, because you'll never know what will happen,' " Garvin said.
That lesson was important during Garvin's junior year at West Virginia. He suffered a torn meniscus and was forced to miss the team's Orange Bowl game. Garvin overcame that adversity and responded with a great senior season for the Mountaineers.
"Everything just seemed like it wasn't going good," Garvin said. "There were a lot of tough times, but I just kept my head up and kept working."