clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Atlanta United signs Garrison Tubbs to Homegrown Deal

The top defender in college soccer returns to Atlanta United as a Homegrown Player

NC State v Wake Forest Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Welcome home, Garrison Tubbs!

Atlanta United’s most decorated college prospect returns to the club on a Homegrown Player contract following a superb four years at Wake Forest.

The Brunswick, Georgia native joined Atlanta United’s academy ahead of the 2018-19 academy season following a successful season with Jacksonville Armada’s U-23 team. He made his USL debut with ATL UTD 2 in the summer of 2019 against North Carolina FC and his first start against Hartford Athletic a month later. Overall, he made six appearances and four starts for ATL UTD 2 during the 2019 season followed by an additional six starts to begin the 2020 USL Championship season.

In early 2020, Tubbs traveled to Scotland with U-19 teammates Jordan Matthews and Marzuq Puckerin for a two-week training stint at Aberdeen FC.

“This is a huge opportunity for each of these three young men,” former Atlanta United Academy Director Tony Annan said at the time. “Each has developed significantly over the last two years and earned opportunities at the USL level. Thanks to our new partnership with Aberdeen, they’ll now be afforded another opportunity to further develop their skills.”

For Tubbs, furthering his academic pursuits was just as important as his dream of playing soccer professionally. After playing his last home match with the 2s in a draw to the Charleston Battery alongside Caleb Wiley, Tubbs traveled with academy teammate Chase Oliver to join Omar Hernandez and Machop Chol at Wake Forest.

It did not take Tubbs long to earn a starting spot in his freshman season. As a freshman, he started the 12 matches he appeared in as part of a defense that only gave up five goals in the eight matches he started during the COVID-interrupted Fall season.

In his second season, Tubbs showed his versatility as a right-back, starting 20 of the 21 matches he appeared in for a team-high 1728 minutes. He scored his first goal against Bryce Washington’s #5-ranked Pitt and added five assists that season. Since then, Tubbs has started all 38 appearances for a team that is a perennial competitor for a conference title and a College Cup invitation.

“His growth during his time here as both a player and leader on and off the field continues to set a standard for this group,” said Bobby Muuss, Wake Forest's Head Coach.

His selflessness and leadership on and off of the pitch were rewarded in his third season as he was selected to represent the team as their captain in his Junior season and kept that honor for his Senior campaign. On the field, Tubbs is a vocal and positive leader, organizing his teammates and advocating for them (often with a wry smile) to the central official.

Off the field, Tubbs is a top-tier scholar and dedicated leader in his community. “Garrison has been an outstanding representative of Wake Forest University and our program on and off the field these last four seasons and this recognition is a testament to his incredible efforts since stepping foot on campus,” said Coach Muuss. Tubbs led a group of fellow student-athletes to log the most community service hours of any Division I men’s soccer program in 2022-23 after he and his teammates were named HelperHelper Community Service National Champions in 2021-2022. They have also donated their time and energy to the team’s fundraising efforts, raising over $50,000 through the annual Walt Clinic, Genna Wiley Memorial Matches, the 2023 Mental Health Awareness Match, and the program’s yearly Goal-a-Thon. In addition to his commitments on the field and in his community, Tubbs is a three-time All-ACC Academic Team selection, a three-time ACC Honor Roll selection and was named a 2022 United Soccer Coaches First-Team Scholar All-American.

In his final season, Tubbs joined Wake Forest Hall of Famers Michael Parkhurst (2004), Ike Opara (2008, 2009), and Kevin Politz (2017) as the fourth Wake Forest defender to earn ACC Defender of the Year honors as his defense averaged less than 1 goal allowed per match.

This is well-earned. He helped organize a defense that kept 22 clean sheets across 59 matches against some of the best competition at his level over the last three seasons. He is an intelligent defender with good size and mobility and above-average ball control and passing ability that projects well to the professional game. Wake Forest has a similar ball possession philosophy to Atlanta United so it is encouraging to see how well Tubbs manages the game from the back as a passer and as an on-field coach shifting his teammates around to find paths through crowded midfields. Tubbs is one of three Mac Hermann Trophy finalists this year was was ranked the third-best player and top defender in college soccer by TopDrawerSoccer.

As you can see, this was an easy decision for Atlanta United to offer Tubbs a chance to return to Atlanta. Tubbs was one of a handful of former academy players to remain close with Atlanta United’s academy staff while away at college, and would occasionally be seen training with his old coaches and teammates in the offseason. While the increased speed of the professional game will be a significant hurdle for Tubbs to adapt to, he is returning to Atlanta with every expectation that he will be an important piece of a centerback room that is undergoing a major transition.

With the likelihood of Miles Robinson returning to Atlanta diminishing by the day, the club will have a unique challenge and opportunity in needing to replace another iconic centerback. With Luis Abram as the most experienced defender in a room of Homegrown Players, Tubbs is a natural fit as a leader for his younger teammates and an intelligent communicator and organizer for a group sorely needing constructive vocal leadership. He and Efrain Morales become the two tallest players on the team at 6-foot 3-inches, adding some much-needed size and aerial defending to the team. The club will likely still sign a veteran centerback to begin the season alongside Abram as the starter, but we could quickly see Tubbs rise to the occasion similarly to how Miles Robinson began earning minutes in his second season. If we look ahead one more season to 2025, the future looks bright for Tubbs, Morales, and Noah Cobb to lead a youth movement for Atlanta United’s backline.

We, at DirtySouthSoccer, are thrilled to have Garrison Tubbs back wearing Five Stripes again and look forward to seeing him back at the Training Grounds in just a few weeks.