It was like Christmas in late June for University of Arkansas head football coach Houston Nutt and legendary Razorback track coach John McDonnell.
Those two coaches were overjoyed with the addition of Georgia prep football and track star Michael Grant (6-0, 175, 4.3), a former star at Stone Mountain High School in Stephenson, Ga., who signed a grid scholarship with the Razorbacks on Monday after getting approval from the SEC and NCAA.
That was needed because Grant had originally signed with the University of Georgia, but was denied admission because of a consensual liaison that happen with a female student on the campus of South Gwinnett High School when he was a sophomore.
Although Grant has kept his nose clean since, Georgia is being very stringent in who in admits since the fallout of from recent football and basketball scandals at the school and red flagged Grant's expulsion that was punishment for the incident.
"We believe things happen for a reason," said Stephenson Head Coach Ron Gartrell told the Insiders network earlier this week. "While this changes things for him in terms of travel, he still has an opportunity to play for an SEC football team and a nationally known track program."
It is likely that Grant, rated as one of the top 10 cornerbacks in the country last season and also one of the nation's top sprinters, will make an impact for both the UA grid and track programs right away.
In addition to being a top-notch cover guy that earned him Super Prep All-American honors, Grant took one punt, one kickoff and one interception back for touchdowns during his senior year.
He has also been timed in as low as 10.47 in the 100 meters, won both the state 100 and 200 as a junior and the 100 as a senior and was named to the USA Today Boys Track and Field team.
"We are extremely excited to add a player of the caliber of Michael Grant at this point in the summer," Nutt said. "He had an outstanding high school career in two sports and will have a chance to do that here at the University of Arkansas. He has outstanding speed. With everything we lost in the secondary, he will have an opportunity to compete for playing time as a true freshman."
McDonnell, who has 39 national titles to his credit, was equally excited about the Christmas gift arriving in June.
"For us, it is great to be back with football in working with them to have a great sprinter," McDonnell said. "His addition will make our relay team very strong for next year. We are glad he is going to be a part of our program."
Grant is fully qualified, having scored 1080 on his SAT to go along with a 3.0 grade point average.
Georgia head coach Mark Richt helped Grant get hooked up with Arkansas, a school that Grant had considered along with Florida State, Tennessee and Miami back during his recruitment.
"I think Mark Richt helped Michael with his recommendation to the Arkansas coaching staff," Gartell added. "It was not a coaches decision to not admit him to Georgia."
o o o
While all the talk this week has been about the pick-up of Grant for 2004 - and rightfully so - it's important to note that Arkansas has done a tremendous job in getting out to a head start on its 2005 class.
Before the calendar has made it to July, the Razorbacks already have six commitments already in the fold.
They've already locked up arguably Arkansas' top player in running back Darren McFadden (6-1, 210), Texas prep stars in the Allen High tandem of defensive end Marcus Shavers (6-4, 245) and quarterback Casey Dick (6-1, 200), Butler County Community College cornerback Brannon Kidd (5-11, 195) and recent pick-ups in Russellville offensive lineman Joey Crossland (6-5, 295) and Wynne defensive end Cord Gray (6-1, 285).
That's all got Crossland, heretofore just a defensive guy, all excited.
"I'm excited about being a Razorback in the future and thrilled at some of the other names that they have already gotten commitments from and are going to get in the future," Crossland said. "I am happy my name is on that list."
Despite some influences telling him not to go to football camps this summer, Crossland chose to come to Houston Nutt's Football Camp.
"That certainly paid off for me," Crossland said. "I went up there and did a good enough job that they called me a few days after I got back and offered me a scholarship. I'm sure glad I went."
Crossland has spent his entire prep career on the defensive side of the ball, but projects as a college offensive lineman and will play on both interior lines at Russellville this upcoming season.
"The main thing on either side of the ball is just to get to the point of attack and mean business when you get there," Crossland said. "I will give it all I've got, especially because all I ever wanted to be was a Razorback and now I am going to get that chance."
o o o
...Arkansas basketball signee Charles Thomas is enrolled for the second semester of summer school and fully qualified to play next season.
...The Razorback basketball team has added a walk-on in former Pulaski Academy's Sammy Munsey, a 6-2 pure shooting guard and outstanding athlete who was the MVP of the Rumble on the Ridge in Forrest City last November.
...New York prep basketball star Jessie Sapp, a 6-3, 190-pound combo guard, said earlier this week that he planned to use one of his five official visits to come to Arkansas.
...Hargrave Military Academy's Jeremy Palmoore, a former Memphis prep offensive lineman and one of Arkansas signees' the past two seasons, will not be a part of the 2004 incoming class after sources indicate he has been released from his letter-of-intent.
UA's Christmas in June a welcome sight
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