Grant, Buckeyes Hope Playing Pays Off

The Ohio State football team has a new toy in its weight room. The Buckeyes have a vision board there that tests the players' hand-eye coordination and reaction time. It is helping new starting cornerback Doran Grant improve after failing to make a splash last fall.

If it looks like Doran Grant is a little faster on the field when the Ohio State football team begins its season this fall, thank video games.

OK. Perhaps that's a little too general. Grant has been among the Buckeyes who have spent time working during the offseason with a Dynavision light board in the team's weight room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The board tests an athlete's quickness and hand-eye coordinator by flashing lights that the athlete has to touch during a minute-long challenge.

Here is a video of a Dynavision board in action on YouTube.

"It's fantastic," OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said. "It's got lights everywhere, so you see – bang, bang, bang, bang – like this for one minute."

Coombs said Grant is one of the main players the Buckeye had in mind when bringing in the board. Grant was Ohio State's No. 3 corner last season behind then-sophomore Bradley Roby and then-senior Travis Howard, the latter of whom Grant battled for the second starting CB spot before eventually losing the competition.

Grant still had a solid season, recording 16 tackles – including seven in his lone start of the season against UAB. He also nabbed his lone interception and only sack of the season against the Blazers.

Even so, he was disappointed how things went.

"Last year, the expectations were high and I didn't really meet them," Grant said. "This year, I've been practicing well and I'm a little faster. I'm moving quicker. I feel better. My body feels good. I'm just learning from Coach Coombs and Bradley Roby to try to be the best I can be."

Coombs called disappointing an accurate phrase for Grant's 2012.

"I expected him to play more," Coombs said. "When he had a start (against UAB), he had a great game. What I love about him is that … he is willing to do anything and everything (to get better). I think he's come a long way halfway through spring.

"He's definitely the starter and he's going to compete really, really hard. Our expectations here are very high. Our expectations are if you're going to play here, you're going to be one of the best in the country. That's his job."

Grant said he had to mature and develop more as a defensive back last season and he feels he's done so now. Of course, feeling quicker helps. That's where the vision board enters the picture. According to Coombs, who claimed that NBA star Tim Duncan has the board's best score with 139 lights in a minute, Grant got 48 on his first attempt. The second time, Grant got 76.

"I don't know where he's at now, but Roby and (senior wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown) and all of those guys are competing every day," Coombs said. "Philly came and grabbed me today and (said), ‘I got 93!' There's no downside to kids doing that kind of stuff on their own.

"We've got a vision program that they use to train fighter pilots with the Air Force. ... What I've told our kids is that we train so hard – we train your body physically, we train – frankly – your soul with ethical conduct and character, we train your heart with toughness and those kinds of things – why not train your eyes and train your mind and try to close some of those synapses that are going on in your brain? They're eating it up. We start off every meeting with the corners with a little quick vision thing. How can that hurt us? They're taking to it."

While many of the Buckeyes are taking to the vision board, Coombs wanted Grant especially to try to utilize it because the OSU assistant coach noticed looking back at film from last season that there was a delay in what Grant saw and what Grant did.

"I could see it on film and I could freeze the film and show him – in drill work even – where this guy, this guy, this guy sees it and acts and you see it and (pause) act," Coombs said. "We've got to fix that. That's what we're doing."

Whether it's because he is entering his fourth year in the OSU program as a redshirt junior or because of his work with the vision board, Grant entered the spring with an added confidence.

"I just feel older, more mature and ready for the game at a college level," Grant said. "I'm just ready for the season to start."

But Grant doesn't feel any pressure in stepping into a starting role this fall. He calls the feeling he has something different.

"It's more like hunger," he said. "I'm just ready to play, go out there and make plays. No pressure at all."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories