Another great read from Drew Edwards on Terry Grant.
Terry Grant was going to be a star. Maybe not an NFL star but most definitely a college football star, carrying the ball for one the most storied programs in U.S. college football, Alabama, playing for one of the best coaches on the planet, Nick Saban.
Highly recruited out of high school – he was Mississippi Mr. Football after running for 2,700 yards and 36 touchdowns his senior year – Grant exploded for 891 yards and eight touchdowns his freshman season with the Crimson Tide, leading the team in rushing. He was destined, it seemed, for the kind of stardom found only on ESPN College Game Day.
And then... well, and then a slow decline that even he seems at loss to explain. Injuries certainly played a role but Grant says he just fell out of favour with the Alabama coaching staff. He recorded just 35 carries for 88 yards his sophomore season and the following year carried 40 times for 166 yards.
“I just couldn't get back in the rotation,? the 24-year-old Grant says. “And I didn't know why.?
And so he quit. That wasn't what they called it – Saban said his departure was due to injuries – but Grant says the reason he didn't play his senior year was deeper and far more personal.
“I just didn't want to do it anymore – it felt like the love for the game was gone,? Grant said. “I didn't think they needed me and I wanted out.?
Grant stayed in school, adding a Master's degree in management to go along with his undergrad in youth development – he was a two-time conference academic honor roll selection – and did a little working out on the side. Slowly, the body and the mind recovered.
“I felt like I was done with game but I stayed in shape just to be sure,? Grant said. “Eventually the love of the game came back.?
Of course, there was still more waiting to be done. Grant made the Ticats out of training camp – his explosive 54-yard touchdown run in a the pre-season finale against Montreal was a glimpse of his potential – but spent the first 11 games of the regular season watching from the sidelines.
“I was prepped from my time in Alabama – that's all I did there my last few years, sit and wait,? Grant said. “When I came here, it was the same thing but guys were in the background telling me to be patient.?
Chief among Grant's supporters, veteran running Avon Cobourne who has willingly shared his CFL knowledge with a rookie coping with the unique challenges in the CFL.
“He's been great,? Grant said. “He's been in the game a long time and he's taught me a lot.?
Looking to spark his team after a woeful two-game losing streak that saw them struggle to score touchdowns, head coach Marcel Bellefeuille created roles in the offence for Grant and return man Marcus Thigpen, who moved to wide receiver full-time.
The Ticats have put up 82 points in the two contests since – both wins – and Grant and Thigpen have done more than their fair share. Grant has 341 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns while Thigpen has 354 yards and two scores.
But the two aren't going to catch opponents surprise any longer.
“Thigpen is in the starting receiving corps and they're going to see Grant in the game,? Bellefeuille said. “We understand that our opponents know that and we have to do different things. We have to mix it up.?
For Grant, the humility he learned at Alabama has carried over. He's come to realize that impatience and frustration are useless to him and to savour the moments of success.
“I don't know why I was put in that situation – I'm still waiting for answers myself,? Grant said. “But I'm here in Canada, playing ball and playing great. I'm just going to keep it up.?[/b]