Janarion Grant set an AAC record the first time he touched the ball in a college game. The 100-yard kick return against Fresno State is a Rutgers record – tied with Nate Jones – and was the world’s introduction to Grant.
Grant is now a sophomore, and starting wide receiver. Grant spent an offseason bulking up, and would love to show Washington State a similar surprise Thursday night.
“We’re going to have to see,” Grant said. “I know I have it in me, but that was a crazy moment. That was my first touch ever in college football and I scored – from 100 yards too.”
Grant hopes that Washington State and the rest of the schedule challenges him in the return game. Returning one punt and one kick for touchdown last year, Grant dares opposing coaches to come after him.
“I’m hoping they will try to kick at me,” he said. “Now that we’re in the Big Ten, some of them might think we’re weak. They might want to kick my way anyway and I’ll have to show them.”
The bigger surprise for Grant could come at the wide receiver position. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound sophomore from Pasco (Fla.) won the most improved offensive player of spring award.
Grant kept it going in the summer, and coach Kyle Flood named him a co-starter at the position.
“I’m a starter, not just special teams,” Grant said. “It feels different. It’s awesome to get the opportunity. I’m just trying to get out there and show my talent and let everybody know what I can do in the field.”
Offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen spoke highly of Grant at media day. Rutgers is without potential starters Andre Patton and Ruhann Peele for the opener. Friedgen also has two guys banged up in the probable Carlton Agudosi and Andrew Turzilli.
Grant plans to make up for it, and has a chance to double his career numbers by halftime (three catches, 21 yards).
“They (Washington state) just know me as a punt returner and a kick returner,” Grant said. “Obviously they know I play receiver because of the internet, but they haven’t seen me. I’m just trying to prepare for anything. I know I can surprise some people. I just have to follow my coaching.”
CenturyLink Field will be the first experience on an NFL field for Grant, who came closest last year during a game at Yankee Stadium. Unlike some teammates, Grant has no visions of battling all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman on his field.
“No chance,” Grant said. “He’s way too high up for me. I’m a baby right now. He’s a full-grown man, and I’m just working my way up step by step.”