School: Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Ohio.
Projected position: 2011 Cornerback.
Size: 5-foot-11, 180-pounds.
Ranking: Four-star prospect.
Recruiting: Committed to Ohio State.
Overall rank: Number-five cornerback in America.
MY FIRST MEETING: I first saw Doran Grant as a skinny high school freshman when he attended the Akron University camp in late June. At the time he probably weighed 160-pounds soaking wet, and had yet to play a game of varsity football. Even though he looked like a little kid competing against men, Grant had remarkable instincts in man coverage and showed off the raw skills that would later take him to Ohio State. Although he had zero technique and had not been coached at all, the little kid was fearless and locked up all of the potential seniors that were fighting for an Akron offer that day. What I loved about him was the fact that he could cover receivers, and he would battle bigger and stronger players to the death on every rep.
MY FIRST DISCUSSION: J.D. Brookhart was the head coach at Akron at the time, and although he and I were both primarily watching seniors-to-be, we were both intrigued by the unknown Doran Grant. The more we watched him, the more both of us felt we were watching the player with the most potential in the entire camp. Brookhart asked me to not write about Grant, because he wanted to keep him all to himself for recruiting purposes. When I told my friend I could not do that, he just smiled and said "Oh Hell, go write about the kid. We aren't going to be able to recruit him anyway. That's a Michigan, Notre Dame, or Ohio State kid one day." Of course, Coach Brookhart was correct. I took Grant's picture, wrote down his info, and the rest is history. For the record, I wrote 18 articles on Grant during his high school career, and he was as nice and pleasant as any player I've ever interviewed in all the years I've been in this business. He remains that way today, and is someone I will always root for.
MY FINAL MEETING: Grant's high school career ended in Orlando at the Under Armour All-America game. He was announcing his choice at the game during a break in the action, but he graciously gave me the story a day in advance so I could have it ready once he announced. Of course, he wanted the story kept quiet, especially since he was planting the seed that he might be committing to Michigan State, the school his father played for. As the message boards blew up with possible "Grant to MSU" rumors, all I could do was laugh at this kid and his caper. He played well in the game, but struggled in coverage all week long in practice. Instead of being discouraged or defeated, Grant went to work on improving his hip turn and being more physical on the ball, his two main weaknesses. My final memory of Grant's career won't be the win over Oregon to secure the national championship. No, it will be watching him cover Amare Cooper when the Buckeyes defeated Alabama, and remembering how hard Grant worked four years earlier to improve his man cover skills.
Here are 7on7 highlights of Grant in action prior to his senior season for the Irish: