The Ohio State linebackers coach was impressed by what he saw from Grant not just on the field but away from it as well.
"I had the opportunity to go watch him in the state semifinal game and was very impressed with him as a person, as a leader, as a motivator," the coach said. "He's a guy with great charisma. He walks into a room and he is a guy that takes over the room.
"Sometimes it's toughest to be that first guy to come from an area where we haven't notoriously had a whole bunch of guys from. Hopefully he can be that guy to break off and start us with some guys from that area."
When he arrives in Columbus this summer, Grant will be the second scholarship player to hail from the Old Dominion State on the 2011 OSU roster. The other, quarterback Joe Bauserman, hails from Strasburg, which located about 2½ hours northwest of Grant's hometown of Richmond.
OSU's coaches made reference to not having had much success recruiting the region in previous years. Grant said that sort of challenge made the Buckeyes more appealing.
"I was the type of guy that I like to get out and do my own thing and help other people," Grant told BuckeyeSports.com. "I thought maybe if I left and made someplace else home and got out of the state a little bit I could grow up as a human being and be a successful young man. I thought maybe I'd give Ohio State a try."
Before his junior season, the linebacker gave his coach a list of schools that were of interest. When his coach went to a coaching convention populated by a number of college coaches, he brought along Grant's highlight tape.
Soon thereafter, the offers began to roll in.
"I had Ohio State, LSU, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech, Florida, Alabama, a whole bunch of schools (on the list)," he said. "Penn State (too). All of the schools on the list I got offers from. I was very blessed to have a whole bunch of offers and attention like that."
The early leader was Florida, and Grant said he was nearly set on committing to the Gators but for a voice in his head urging him to keep looking.
"Basically throughout the whole recruiting process there was always one thing telling me to go to Ohio State and check it out," he said. "There was always that little voice. I was like, ‘Well, I'll bet I never go there.' Before I went to Ohio State I was ready to commit to Florida but there was always one little thing telling me to go up there and check it out. I was like, ‘Well, I'll go up there once.' "
As his relationship with Fickell grew, Grant said his comfort level with the program rose.
"He was one of those guys that cared about you more as a person instead of just a football player," the linebacker said. "Every week, we would rarely talk about football. It was always about getting to know each other and how he was going to improve our relationship as far as two human beings if he was going to be my coach."
On the field, Grant recorded 134 tackles including six sacks while leading his team to the state title game. Scout.com named him a five-star prospect and the nation's top outside linebacker despite the fact that he has not lined up at middle linebacker just once in his career.
Grant said he will remain in the middle when he gets to Columbus.
"I played outside one game and I hated it," he said. "Middle, you go from sideline to sideline. I like taking on the big lineman and making plays and hitting little fullbacks. It's basically like a big storm and you've got to fight your way out and get to the outside. I like doing stuff like that."
His leadership will be tested early. Fickell will serve as the team's interim head coach while Jim Tressel and five players open the season with five-game suspensions. Grant, who said he called Tressel shortly after his initial two-game suspension was announced, said he hopes to help his new teammates not miss a beat.
"The way I look at it, everybody is an asset to that team," he said." If one soldier falls, another one has to stay up and keep the program going. Just because one guy is down, that doesn't mean we have to stop doing what we're doing.
"Everybody keeps asking me ‘What about Tressel?' I say, he's all right. He fell down. Just because he fell down, we're not going to stop keeping the intensity up at practices."