In his first full week as a member of the Ole Miss football team, Grant, who signed with the Rebels in February, has quickly risen up the depth chart. He's a starter at defensive tackle alongside veteran Justin Smith, after opening preseason practices with the third team.
"Uriah Grant is showing he can be a strong force in the middle. He'll be able to help us," Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said.
"I knew I needed to come in and make an impact," Grant said. "That's why they recruit you out of junior college, to come in and play. I've just leaned on my seniors and leaned on my teammates. I'm just soaking everything up day by day."
Grant isn't tall, at least not by typical linemen standards. He's more Ted Laurent than Jerrell Powe or Lawon Scott, listed generously at 6-foot-1. But what he lacks in height Grant more than makes up for in brawn, channeling his inner Powe in practices with powerful bursts and disruption at a need position.
"I really didn't think it was a big deal coming from junior college, ‘cause I played at other schools in Division-I football. Football's football, no matter where you're at," Grant said. "Put on shoulder pads and a helmet, it's the same thing."
An immediate impact is what he envisioned when he signed with Ole Miss out of Fullerton (Calif.) College, where he earned first team All-Conference honors after posting 42 tackles and 17 tackles for loss.
Grant arrived on campus in the summer, and he had little trouble fitting in with his work ethic. Even more, he has been a veteran presence for a young team, despite Grant having not played a game.
"He came in with a spark," senior defensive end Jason Jones said. "Not knowing exactly what's to come, but he had an idea of this level and how to work. He's not a freshman. He didn't have to be taught to be on time and to be where he needs to be. He's really made an impact on all the other newcomers, as well. They're taking after him. He's really made a pretty good impact."
Ole Miss lost four defensive tackles to graduation last season. Behind Grant and Smith are a handful of freshmen and sophomores, most notably Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett, former teammates at Madison Central.
"It's been going good. The seniors have really helped make the transition that much easier," Grant said. "Coming in, I thought it would be a lot more faster than junior college. It's a little bit faster, but the seniors and my teammates were able to help me pick it up quick."
Grant has made an impression on Jones, a veteran leader for the team and a defense that is looking to rebound from a disappointing showing last season. The Ole Miss defense was near the bottom in the Southeastern Conference in most statistical categories a year ago.
"Uriah, he's a real force, man. Came in playing third string, but these last couple of days, he's been showing explosion being at the d-tackle position," Jones said. "When he came in for summer workouts, he was riding with us, you know? That's what we're going into this season with. You ride or die with your teammates. You love your teammates, you know? Uriah, he's really been there."
Grant, who suffered a minor groin injury in the team's first full-contact scrimmage of fall camp Saturday, likened the team's improved chemistry to a family. Ole Miss, he said, lacked unity during a 2011 season that saw the team finish 4-8 overall and 1-7 in conference games.
"We're building a family right now," he said. "The thing that I didn't see last year, is they weren't really a family. And the speed of our defense (this year) is faster. We have more of a hunger just to get to the ball."