Thursday, August 4, 2011

TRUE FRESHMAN LINEBACKER CURTIS GRANT IS READY TO PROVE A POINT

Curtis Grant
COLUMBUS — When Ohio State freshman linebacker Curtis Grant is in your midst you have no choice but to take notice.

Not only is the native of Virginia a physical specimen, he also has a personality that's towers above his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame.

"He's a guy with great charisma," Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said of Grant. "When he walks in a room, he's the type of guy who takes over the room."

Grant is also the type of player who takes over on the field.

The U.S. Army, Parade Magazine and USA Today All-American was a machine at linebacker during his senior season at Hermitage High in Richmond, recording 134 tackles (15 for loss) and six sacks while leading the school to its first ever state championship berth. He was rated by Scout.com as the best prep outside linebacker in the nation last season.

Now, he's expected to compete for one of two starting linebacker spots as a true freshman once fall camp begins on Monday.

"To be honest, I don't really know about that," Grant said about the possibility of starting as a true freshman. "I'm just going to compete and let the coaches judge that."

With the loss of veteran starters Brian Rolle and Ross Homan due to graduation, as well as the recent news of Jon Newsome departure and Dorian Bell's suspension, there's an extremely strong possibility that Grant will start at either the middle or weakside linebacker spot as early as week one.

Fickell stated that Grant has all the ingredients to start as a true freshman.

"Curtis is a unique kid," Fickell said. "He's a big, physical kid. I'm impressed with him as a person, a leader and a motivator. He's a very intelligent kid who understands football."

Fickell admitted that not many guys from the state of Virginia — which is an east coast recruiting hotbed — show much interest in Ohio State football. The new coach said Grant's personality, though, fits in perfectly with the Buckeyes' team culture.

"He loves the team and the family atmosphere," Fickell said. "When he came up here to Ohio State that's what he fell in love with. He fell in love with these guys when he met them."

Grant, who was recruited by former head coach Jim Tressel, said that he seriously thought about going elsewhere after the coach resigned in May.

"I'm not going to lie, I did (have reservations) at first," Grant said. "But I just prayed about the situation and in the end I felt like this was still the best place for me."

Grant admitted that the hiring of Fickell helped strengthen his commitment to the Buckeyes.

"Me and Coach Fickell have a great relationship," Grant said. "As far as him becoming head coach, it just made me want to come (to Ohio State) even more."

He said he loves Fickell's no nonsense approach when dealing with people.

"He was always a guy who was basically truthful with me," Grant said of Fickell. "We had good conversations and he never tried to sell me anything. It was always 'what you see is what you get.'"

There are serious expectations for the all-American linebacker at the collegiate level. He's being tabbed as the next great linebacker at Ohio State, falling in line with names like Randy Gradishar, Chris Spielman, Andy Katzenmoyer, A.J. Hawk and James Laurinaitis.

Of course, Grant isn't worried about filling the bill or living up to such great hype ... he's just itching to get on the field and start hitting some guys with the football in their hands.

"In 7-on-7s, it's a lot harder because you can't hit and the offense gets to run around and have fun," Grant said. "I'm just excited to get a chance to prove a point a little bit."

That "point" may be getting proved early and often.