Grant Looks Forward To Start Of Season

One person who should be happy that Terry Grant has gotten stronger this year is John Parker Wilson. "It's helped my blocking," Grant said, "especially my pass blocking."

And how would Terry Grant judge his pass blocking last year? "It sucked," he said.

"It's a lot better now," Grant said. "I stay after practice and work on it."

Grant, a sophomore running back, is coming off an injury that short-circuited an excellent first full year. He played briefly in 2006, but was injured and earned a redshirt season. As a freshman last year, he earned the starting job for Alabama in the first game, but was unable to finish the season because of a sports hernia. He had surgery in Philadelphia following the season, and had an excellent spring.

As he prepares for the season, the 5-9, 190-pounder from Lumberton, Miss., was listed as high as a second team pre-season All-Southeastern Conference selection. He's thought to be in a battle with Glen Coffee for the starting job when Alabama opens the season against Clemson a week from Saturday.

Last year he started in nine of Bama's 13 games, then missed the final two games of the year. "I think it started prior to the season," he said of his 2007 injury. "I tried to push through it, but finally I couldn't."

Still, Grant rushed 180 times for 891 yards and eight rushing touchdowns, all Bama freshman records.

He said he used his injury as motivation and knew he was back when he took a short pass in the A-Day Game and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown, one of two scores he had in the spring game.

"I'm a lot better physically now," he said. "I've had some shin splints, but with two-a-days being over I'm coming back from that." He said he didn't want to be in a black jersey because he thinks "those guys have it worse than I do."

A black shirt indicates injury that precludes contact, and those players are worked out separately by strength and conditioning coaches during practice.

Alabama started preparation for the Clemson game Thursday and Grant was happy to get into that phase of pre-season practice. "We're working against the scout team and working on our plays," he said. "That's more exciting than working against our guys. We're tired of hitting them and they're tired of hitting us."

He said it's exciting to be playing a highly ranked team (Clemson is ranked ninth in the nation), but said, "I prepare the same way no matter who we play. You have to come out on fire."

Grant came out on fire in 2007. On Alabama's first play of the season he ran 47 yards for a touchdown in Bama's 52-6 win over Western Kentucky. As for starting the 2008 season the same way, he said, "I wish."

Grant said he had a "great start" last season. And he did. He was SEC Freshman of the Week the first three weeks of the season.

Grant said he expects Bama's running backs to catch a lot of passes this year. "Coach McElwain (new Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain) has put in a lot of stuff to get us one-on-one," Grant said.

He said, "Coach Saban likes to use a lot of guys at running back. He wants fresh legs. And you get beat up."

Grant said he knows one Clemson player, the Tigers' star running back C.J. Spiller. He said they were in a couple of camps together and last saw each other at FSU's summer camp when they were being recruited by the Seminoles. Grant was also recruited by Clemson. The running backs coach for the Tigers at that time (who recruited Spiller) was Burton Burns, now Alabama's running backs coach.

"I told Coach Burns I would have been upset if he had recruited me to Clemson and then left to go to Alabama," Grant said. He said that he knows the game is important to Burns. "I think he's ready."

Grant said he thinks the Alabama-Clemson match-up will be "a great game against a great team."

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