For his efforts, Terry Grant was honored this week both by his Alabama team and by the Southeastern Conference. Grant finished the game with 134 yards on 18 carries (all in the first half) as Alabama cruised to a 52-6 win over Western Carolina. Grant had three touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama honored six players for their performances in the first game with Grant one of two Crimson Tiders selected as a Player of the Week on Offense. He was also selected as the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week.
Grant said that when he returned to the bench following his first touchdown run that he had to speak on the headset with his position coach, Burton Burns. "He was in the skybox," Grant said. Actually Burns wasn't schmoozing with the swells in a skybox; he was in the coaches' booth in the press box.
"He told me it was a good run and to keep it up," Grant said Burns told him.
Keep it up, he did. He also scored on a one-yard run later in the first quarter and added a 21-yard run in the second quarter. Grant also had two receptions for 13 yards.
Asked if he enjoyed the long touchdown runs more than the short one, Grant said, "The same. They all count the same."
Grant is a redshirt freshman. He played briefly as a true freshman in 2006, but a shoulder injury ended his season and he was awarded a medical redshirt. The Lumberton, Miss., native is a former Mr. Football in his home state. Saturday's game was his first as a starter.
His 134-yard effort was the fourth best rushing total in a season opener in school history and the most since 1994 when Sherman Williams had 153 rushing yards against UT-Chattanooga. He became the first player to run for 100 yards in his first start since Kenneth Darby had 197 against Southern Miss in 2004.
"I thought we looked pretty good," Grant said Monday of the opening performance, "But we've got some work to do." He said he had looked at game tapes with his position coach. "He told us what we could do better," Grant said.
He said, "It feels good. I worked hard and it paid off. Now we've got to prepare and work hard for every game."
He said he never expected to score a touchdown on the first carry of a game. "That first play looked like it does when someone draws it up," he said. "The blocking was great."
Grant said he was aware of the sellout crowd of 92,138. "I heard a big roar when Andre (offensive tackle Andre Smith) pancaked a guy about 30 yards downfield," he said. "When I went into the end zone it was loud, real loud."
Grant probably isn't going to get one wish. He said he hopes that opponents don't know about him as they prepare for Alabama. "I'd like to keep it a secret," he said.
And how did Grant celebrate his big game? "I was tired," he said. "I stayed inside and slept Saturday night."