Small Stature, Big Game

Texas Tech sophomore receiver Jakeem Grant stands just 5-foot-6 and weighs 160 pounds and for that many coaches and scouts have written him off over his football career. That's their mistake and Texas Tech's gain as Jakeem "The Dream" has developed into one of the most electrifying players in the Big 12 and perhaps the best still lies ahead.

Most coaches and scouts look for wide receivers who are at least six feet tall, weigh over 200 pounds--big targets--who can power their way through the first tackle to gain extra yards.

Those are the same coaches who look as bad as the defender who gets his ankles broken by Texas Tech sophomore inside receiver Jakeem Grant.

Grant is just five-foot-six and weighs 160 pounds. Many football "experts" believe he is at a major disadvantage. Grant disagrees.

"People normally try to hit people at the legs," Grant said. "There's no way you can hit me at the legs without hitting the ground first, so I do look at my size as an advantage."

When Grant gets the ball, he almost never disappoints. Grant can juke, jive, run backwards at full speed and disappear right before a defender's eyes. Not only is Grant electrifying as a receiver, but he's also a potent kick returner capable of taking one for six points at every opportunity. One of those came during the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas in December when Grant made one move and simply outraced the Minnesota coverage team for a 99-yard score.

Things were not always easy for Grant. He once played for a coach who viewed him for his lack of size rather then his breadth of talent.

Grant's family moved from Mesquite to Desoto when he was in the seventh grade. His new coach at Desoto Middle School did not think Grant was ready to play for the A team.

"I was the best running back, but I wasn't the biggest," Grant said. "So he felt like I shouldn't play on A team, so he moved me down to B team."

The future Red Raider had a tremendous season and forced his middle school coach to bump him up. However, just playing on the B team took a toll on Grant's psyche.

"He moved me up to A team, but at that point I got a little discouraged because I was overlooked"

Grant seems to be at the best school for players of his stature. Texas Tech has a history of receivers who became successful NFL players and are under the six-foot mark. Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker is five-foot-nine. Three-time Super Bowl champ quarterback Tom Brady was upset after the New England Patriots did not re-sign Welker. He was an integral part of the Patriots team that finished the regular season 16-0 and went to Super Bowl XLII.

Danny Amendola, who is currently on the Patriots, is five-foot-eleven. He is one of the quickest players in the NFL and is one of the best receivers to come out of Mike Leach's Air Raid offense.

However, there are still some receivers from Texas Tech who get overlooked. The best example is current co-offensive coordinator and inside receivers coach Eric Morris. Mike Leach, who coached Morris, called him "The Elf." Morris is five-foot-nine and followed in the footsteps of Amendola and Welker as the short, agile, intelligent inside receiver. All three receivers are also tough-minded.

Grant, being an inside receiver, has Morris for a position coach. The Elf makes sure Grant is reminded about his draft stock daily.

"As Coach Morris tells me everyday, he was overlooked and he was making better plays than some of the people that got drafted in his class," Grant said. "And he was overlooked and he didn't go to the NFL."

Grant was not born with electrifying moves. He was born with the talent, but the moves came when Marcus Trice, now a senior defensive back at North Texas, asked him to play backyard football.

"He took me out of the house and was like ‘come play with us'. He was like three grades above me," Grant recalled. "I was just always playing with the big boys and I didn't want to get hit so it's either you shake ‘em or you beat them with speed or you get hit really hard."

Grant is currently third in receiving for Texas Tech with 53 receptions for 707 yards and 5 touchdowns. The two above him are Biletnikoff and Mackey Award finalist Jace Amaro and senior Eric Ward, one of the most prolific players ever to come through Wide Receiver U.

Grant can also run the ball. He averages 6.4 yards per carry. Those stats are impressive considering the weapons Tech has on offense and the fact Grant missed a game due to injury.

Jakeem "The Dream" has two years left at Tech. There is no telling how many highlights and big plays he'll produce in that time, but the sky is the limit for one of the most electrifying players in the Big 12.

There will continue to be doubters, but Grant hopes he can help change the perception of short football players in the future.

"All the short receivers--I looked up to, because they're basically paving the way for me," Grant said. "Why not push to be better than them, so that I can pave the way for other guys that's my height."

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