Grant: Ohio State Recruited Me in a Different Way
By Brandon Castel
As it turns out, Jim Tressel can close.
After missing out on of the top-rated offensive linemen in Ohio, Tressel and his staff completely redeemed themselves with the commitment of Hermitage star linebacker Curtis Grant.
“I pulled the trigger for the Buckeyes because that’s where I felt the most love from,” the Virginia product said during his live announcement on ESPNU.
“Those guys recruited me in a different way and I like the way they recruited me.”
Grant was very private during his recruiting process, never tipping his hand until finally pulling the Ohio State hat out of the box on National Signing Day. He knew most coaches were going to say whatever they had to in order to get him at their school, but that’s not what Grant was looking for.
“I just took my time and never told coaches what I wanted. I just wanted to see what they were going to tell me, if they were going to try to sell me anything,” the national Defensive Player of the Year said.
“I just wanted to go to a school that was a big family; that wanted to stick together like my high school team did.”
Maybe it didn’t completely redeem the fact that Ohio State will come up short on the offensive line again after Glenville 4-star Aundrey Walker sent his Letter of Intent to USC instead, but Grant is the kind of kid who could quickly become a star in Columbus.
“I told the coaches when I come there I don’t plan on sitting on the bench,” Grant said.
“We’re going to stick together and we’re going to work hard and fight for the national championship.”
If defense really does win championships, then the Buckeyes could be in great shape for the foreseeable future. Landing Grant is just the finishing touches on a great defensive class. They filled every need on that side of the ball, including one of the best linebacking corps in the entire country.
Along with Grant, the Buckeyes also landed signatures from Ejuan Price (Pittsburgh) and Conner Crowell (Maryland) Wednesday to go with Ryan Shazier (Florida), who is already enrolled at Ohio State.
Landing four high-caliber linebackers helps to make up for the losses of Jordan Hicks and Trey DePriest in the last two classes. It also continues the trend of bringing in top out-of-state players at the linebacker spot. That includes past players like Anthony Schlegel, Larry Grant, James Laurinaitis and Brian Rolle, along with current Buckeyes Andrew Sweat, Etienne Sabino and Dorian Bell.
There were rumors that Price might flip his commitment to Pittsburgh and new Head Coach Todd Graham at the last minute, but he stuck with the Buckeyes despite the fact his good friend Lafayette Pitts opted to sign with the Panthers.
For Grant, it was all about the Sweatervest and the family atmosphere in Columbus.
“Coach Tressel is just a cool guy. He never pressured me to do anything I didn’t want to do,” said the 5-star linebacker, who chose the Buckeyes over Virginia, Florida and North Carolina.
“He let me take my time to make my decision. As I came down to the end, I just prayed about the whole situation and God just led my heart to Ohio State.”
The 6-foot-3, 222-pound linebacker had 74 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, six pass breakups, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles in 2010. He was rated as the No. 1 linebacker in the country by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, and his commitment gives the Buckeyes 13 of their 23 signatures on the defensive side of the ball.
Along with the four linebackers, Ohio State also signed three defensive ends, two defensive tackles, two corners and a pair of safeties. They could fill an entire starting lineup with the group they landed in 2011, and there’s a good chance that some of them will compete for playing time right away.
“Coming into the Big Ten, we’re going stick together as a family and try to do big things together and just keep working hard,” said Grant, who became the highest-rated player in Ohio State’s 2011 recruiting class.
While the depth of the group is impressive in and of itself, Grant isn’t the only star in the making. In fact, another player sharing the same surname could be the second-best player in the class. Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary corner Doran Grant has all the tools to be the next great one in Scarlet and Gray, and Columbus native Ron Tanner could be the kind of hard-hitting safety Ohio State has lacked for a few years.
That says nothing of Jim Heacock’s haul on the defensive line, where he landed five versatile players who could be the bedrock of Ohio State’s defense in 2-3 years. Defensive ends Kenny Hayes and Steve Miller are both solid prospects, and tackle Michael Bennett could be a major contributor when he recovers from his broken forearm.
Lineup of the 2011 Defensive Class
SDE: Kenny Hayes
DT: Michael Bennett
DT: Joe Hale
LEO: Steve Miller
SLB: Ryan Shazier
MLB: Ejuan Price
WLB: Curtis Grant
CB: Dorant Grant
CB: DerJuan Gambrell
FS: Jeremy Cash
SS: Ron Tanner
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