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Bricen Garner transfers from Pitt to Western Michigan

NCAA Football: Youngstown State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt safety Bricen Garner entered the NCAA transfer portal in January, and on Tuesday evening, he announced that he had completed a transfer to Western Michigan of the MAC. The move comes after a four-year career with his hometown school that was spent primarily in a reserve role.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to have played, studied and graduated from the the University of Pittsburgh,” Garner wrote in a message posted on Twitter. “The city will forever hold a special place in my heart. With that being said, I will play my last year of college eligibility at Western Michigan University.”

The Pittsburgh native joined the Panthers in 2016 and redshirted as a true freshman. Garner appeared in 33 games between 2017 and 2019, and over that span, he came up with 46 tackles while splitting time between Pitt’s defensive unit and special teams unit. That total includes five tackles in 10 games in 2019. In addition, Garner came up with a game-saving pick against Youngstown State in the first game of his Pitt career back in 2017.

Garner was likely to remain in a reserve role if he stayed in Pittsburgh, as Damar Hamlin and Paris Ford are both slated to return at the safety position in 2020. However, in Kalamazoo, he stands a better chance of seeing playing time in what will be his final season of eligibility at the college level. In addition, he will be reunited with fellow Pitt transfer and Pittsburgh native Therran Coleman in the Broncos defensive backfield, as Coleman transferred in January.

Last season, Western Michigan went 7-6 and finished the season on a heartbreaking 23-20 loss to Western Kentucky in the First Responders Bowl under third-year head coach Tim Lester. Back in 2016, the team went 13-1 and reached the Cotton Bowl under P.J. Fleck, who then moved onto Minnesota.

Pitt agreed to a two-year home-and-home series with Western Michigan that will run from 2021 to 2022. However, as a graduate transfer, Garner will be immediately eligible at his new school and will not face his former team, barring unforeseen circumstances.