The Grandy Man Can

Jesse Grandy arrived at Ole Miss as a wide-eyed, lanky receiver with little notoriety.

As a two-star recruit out of Pine Bluff, Ark., his signature drew few headlines. Those went to classmate and U.S. Army All-American Pat Patterson, who possessed enviable size and ability.

Grandy, generously listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, kept to himself at first.

He didn't expect to make an immediate impact. Actually, he figured the coaching staff would stick him with a redshirt, considering his actual weight of 147 needed seasoning in the strength and conditioning program.

"I thought I'd have to sit out a couple of years and get a little stronger," Grandy said. "I never thought I'd be doing what I'm doing now."

But from his first day on the campus practice fields, he showcased flashy speed and sure hands. He had a knack for making plays, be it as a wideout or return man.

Jesse Grandy

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt, known for finding gems amongst unheralded recruits, quickly pegged Grandy as the team's kick returner. He responded, too. He finished the year with two kickoffs returned for touchdowns and an impressive 25.7-yard average.

He played multiple roles over a 9-4 season. As a wide receiver, he caught four passes for 43 yards. As a running back, there were 17 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Beyond the numbers, he was able to learn the intricacies of his position under veterans Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster. They were the offensive playmakers – or, for a better term, the "go-to" guys.

"It helped me out a whole lot," Grandy said. "As a freshman, my focus was on Shay and Dex. I watched how they went about their business. They helped coach me and get me on the right track to become a good playmaker."

Now a sophomore, Grandy has earned the distinction of "go-to." He was at the forefront during spring practice, especially with the absence of Patterson, who was suspended for a violation of team rules.

His role hasn't changed, just tweaked a bit. He's still fielding returns and lining up in the Wild Rebel, but his primary focus is becoming the all-around receiver his team so desperately needs.

Jesse Grandy

"Jesse Grandy has to continue to be our go-to guy," Nutt said.

Unlike Markeith Summers, Lionel Breaux or Ja-Mes Logan, Grandy isn't a big body. He claims to be in the 165-range, though still somewhat generous when taking the eye test into account.

His speed is his greatest asset, as put on display on an 80-yard reception in Saturday's annual Grove Bowl.

Grandy caught a Raymond Cotton pass across the middle, scampered towards the sideline and cut upfield for a touchdown with a minute remaining until halftime.

Whether he'll admit it or not, in some ways, the play was Dexter-esque. He improvised.

"The best way to say it is it was great communication between me and Raymond," Grandy said of the play.

"I was supposed to stick to the hash, but I saw him kind of rolling, so I rolled with him. We kind of hooked up. I just bent my route a little bit."

Even after an early drop, Grandy finished a big scrimmage, a 49-28 win by the Blue Team, by leading all receivers with 125 yards and a touchdown on three catches.

"He's come a long way," sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanley, who finished 11-of-16 for 166 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, said. "Jesse's got all the talent in the world. He's quick, he's fast, he can catch the ball, he can jump.

"He's really improved and showed what he can do this spring. He's going to be a huge target for us."

Grandy quietly sat in the team meeting room of the indoor practice facility afterwards. He wasn't saying much, but even the slightest acknowledgement drew a huge smile from one of the more humble players on the Ole Miss roster.

As questions began to pour in, questions regarding his talents and importance to team success in 2010, Grandy simply gave credit to God and his coaches.

He's still that lanky receiver from Dollarway High School. He's not used to this type of attention yet.

"I look at it like, whenever the team needs a play, I can put myself in the position to make the play. I'm going to do it," he said.

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