Injuries have plagued the running back position for Arizona all season long and with Nick Wilson now out for an extended period of time, senior Samajie Grant is prepared to bring a spark of life to the backfield.
“It’s been an exciting transition for me,” Grant said. “I’m a senior and I always feel like it’s our job as the older players to do whatever we have to do to try to help our team win games. We’re out there to show everybody what we are.
“Coach Rich Rod always tells the younger players just because you’re on the scout team right now doesn’t mean you can’t be playing next week. That goes for all positions too and as a receiver. I never expected to play running back here, but when the time comes like this I’m ready for it. I just have to make sure everything is done right from me this week.”
Learning a new position comes with heavy preparation off the field, which Grant admits has been crucial to getting up to speed.
“I haven’t even seen a receiver in a meeting room the past two weeks,” he said. “That’s just how it is when you’re learning this position for the first time at this level. Coach Magee has been great and he’s a really good coach and I couldn’t be happier to be back there. It’s special for me because it goes back to my roots of playing some running back in high school.”
Grant lacks key physical attributes to be a long-term answer at running back for Arizona, but the senior is prepared to contribute in every possible way regardless.
“I’m just ready to make plays out there knowing my role,” Grant said. “It’s definitely different when you know going into a game you’re taking on that role. I think I’ve been able to prepare much more than other guys we’ve had to put back there this season.
“Watching players like Ka'Deem Carey in 2013 and obviously Nick in 2014 and just watching all their film helped me understand everything about the position. Being able to read the holes and knowing when to make a cut at the right time all comes from that film. You don’t want to be cutting too early, missing a hole or pressing the wrong gap so I just make the effort to be sure I’m not doing any of that. You have to play smart.”
Grant understands great challenges lie ahead and the coaching staff is working with the senior to ensure his role is clear moving forward.
“Coach Magee has always told me from the beginning they just want to make it real simple for me,” he said. “Everything is easy to learn about the position for me except the pass blocking. There’s so much to it like knowing all the plays, understanding automatic cuts and just all different stuff that I really have no idea about.
"Coach is just trying to keep me away from most of that and if there’s something I need to know about with all that, they let me know ahead of time. Everyone has been great in helping me do what I need to do.”