LATROBE -- With Brandon Boykin in camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the young cornerbacks drafted last April aren't standing on such hot spots at St. Vincent College. It's OK that second-round Senquez Golson has to get his shoulder fixed, and it's OK that the coaching staff shows patience with fourth-round pick Doran Grant.
Not that Grant is being coddled.
At 5-10 1/4 with a 4.44 Combine 40, he's not the biggest or the fastest but he's been showing off his quick burst to the ball, his strength, the cover-2 skills that made him a two-year starter at Ohio State, and best of all the ability to turn interceptions into points.
This past Sunday Grant picked off Tyler Murphy at midfield and returned it down the sideline for a touchdown. Previously, in the second practice of camp, Grant picked off Landry Jones in the end zone and returned it to the other end zone, 100 yards, just like he once did in the Big 33 Game on a record-setting play.
"I had everybody on defense blocking for me all the way to the goal," Grant recalled of that prestigious high school all-star game. "That was special to see everybody blocking."
Grant pulled off that play almost 28 months after the most famous 100-yard interception return in football history was pulled off the same way, with "everybody on defense blocking" for James Harrison in Super Bowl 43.
Grant remembers watching that play and, even though he was a Dallas Cowboys fan, rooting for Harrison, who, like Grant, was born and raised in Akron, Ohio.
"Akron's small so everyone pretty much knows who makes it out of Akron, in football or any other sport," Grant said. "To see that was great. Everybody was talking about it."
Has Grant had a chance to talk with Akron's greatest football player since he joined him as a teammate?
"We said a few words or so," Grant said of Harrison. "We haven't been buddy buddy but he's a great guy, a great leader. Just to watch him work in the weightroom and on the field, he's just incredible. I enjoy watching him. I take after him."
Grant is a weightroom junkie. He won the Iron Buckeye Award at Ohio State, repped 225 pounds 21 times at the Combine, and reported to St. Vincent College at a chiseled 200 pounds.
He also has football in his blood. His father, Ted Jones, caught 118 passes at Michigan State in the early 1980s. His brother, Ted Jones Jr., played four years as a running back at Southern University (aka Mel Blount University). And Grant has two cousins who were stars at Ohio State: Devin Smith is a rookie second-round WR with the New York Jets and Beanie Wells was a first-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2009.
All from Akron. All, according to Grant, grew up Steelers fans.
But he's the one who landed with the Steelers. And with Golson hurt, Grant has become the rookie hopeful for a secondary that's not only changing in philosophy but building anew.
"I think it's been going pretty good so far," Grant said. "Learning a lot from William Gay. Learning a lot from Coach Carnell Lake. Learning a lot from Coach Tomlin, just the dialogue, just the dialogue of the way he coaches this team, how he runs this program, just this atmosphere is great. It reminds me of Ohio State with Urban Meyer."
Grant, of course, helped Ohio State win the national championship last year. He wore No. 12 and doubled that this year with Ike Taylor's old No. 24.
Why are the programs of the Steelers and Buckeyes so comparable?
"Everybody's focused on winning," Grant said. "It's all about the focus of winning. It's not about anything other than honing your craft all the time, and that's what I enjoy. That's what we're here for."
Because he was a fourth-round pick, and because he's making plays, and because he's a fit for what the Steelers envision as the future at his position, Grant is cementing away a spot on the 53-man roster for himself.
And while he may open his career as the sixth cornerback on a team that will likely have five veterans in front of him, Grant will ply his trade quietly until his number is called.
Isn't that how last year's Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler, went about his rookie season? Butler didn't start a game until Dec. 14.
Is Grant looking at Butler and saying "Why not me?"
"I'm not exactly saying that exact thing, but to contribute? Yeah. I will say 'Why not me?' Grand said. "That's why we're here. They picked me up for a reason and so
I'm going to try to give them what they picked me up for."