COLUMBUS — Ohio State sophomore Curtis Grant was considered the top rated high school linebacker in the nation coming out of Hermitage (Va.) High School in 2011, according to Scout.com.
Grant was the defensive prize of Jim Tressel's final recruiting class. He was expected to follow in the footsteps of a long line of OSU linebacker stalwarts like Chris Spielman, Tom Cousineau, A.J. Hawk and James Laurinaitis.
However, Grant hasn't lived up to those billings. In fact, he hasn't even followed in the footsteps of fellow class of 2011 linebacker, Ryan Shazier — a player rated as a four-star recruit by Scout who's dazzled ever since he stepped his first foot on campus.
While Grant has yet to solidify a starting spot in the Buckeyes' linebacking unit since arriving, Shazier has become one of the top at his position in the country. He led the Buckeyes last season in tackles with 115, while Grant tallied just eight.
But it isn't talent which has held Grant back.
"I got too complacent," Grant said Thursday. "I couldn’t handle the glory, I guess, of being a starter. I should have kept working harder."
Instead of simply quitting or asking for a transfer, Grant had a soul-searching moment this off-season.
"Either you man up or get out. It's pretty straight forward," Grant said.
"So I manned up."
Now the goals have changed for Grant. It's not about being a star player, it's about possessing a winner's attitude.
"My goal is to not get complacent," Grant said. "I just want to keep working hard and do everything the coaches ask me to."
Buckeyes' defensive coordinator Luke Fickell has taken notice in Grant's rebirth.
"That's where the maturity is showing. 'Can he respond?'" Fickell said Thursday. "If you sat with him and talked, that's probably what he didn't do a great job of last year. That's how you learn and how you grow.
"That's the joy of coaching is seeing guys move through things."
Grant said he has a sense that fortunes are changing for him and his collegiate football career in Columbus.
He feels like the guy who starred at Hermitage.
“When it’s your time, you feel it,” Grant said. “You feel different.
"I feel like my old high-school self again."
If that's the case, the weakest position on the team may become its greatest strength.
BUCKEYES GOING ON BREAK ... Ohio State will be on spring break next week and will not resume practice until Tuesday, March 19.