Final countdown: Impact player No. 6
August, 26, 2012
By Austin Ward | ESPN.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Training camp is over and game preparations have begun. The torture of the offseason is nearly over, and Ohio State's first game under Urban Meyer is closing in. Leading up to the opener against Miami (Ohio), BuckeyeNation will count down the 10 players that figure to have the biggest impact on Meyer's first campaign, continuing with an linebacker who is trying to live up some great expectations.
- POSITION: Middle linebacker
- BASICS: A four-star recruit who showed up at Ohio State as perhaps the most elite member of the 2011 signing class, Grant struggled with the playbook and was limited to a role on special teams as a freshman. The athleticism that generated all the early hype is still there for the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder and is waiting to be unleashed.
- BY THE NUMBERS: Grant only has two career tackles to his credit after failing to make an impact as a freshman. And while it might be difficult to match a season like he posted as a senior in high school with 134 tackles as a first-year starter, the Buckeyes are clearly hoping for something that more closely resembles that production than he provided a year ago.
- OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPACT: The linebacker corps wasn't loaded at depth in the spring, but Ohio State still had a veteran option with starting experience coming back at Grant's position. The coaching staff went with him anyway, trusting that the mental part of the game was catching up with Grant's natural physical skills and handing him the responsibilities that come with his role in the middle. Assuming Grant's extra work with the playbook truly allows him to simply read and react to the action this fall, he could have a major influence on a defense trying to establish itself again as one of the nation's best units.
- HE SAID IT: "He’s got to continue to do what he’s done and continue to show us, but he’s one of those guys that I promise you I’ll lay my head at night on my pillow knowing that he’s going to give me everything he’s got. He loves this game, he’d die for this game, he studies it, he works at it, he’s got a chance to be a great player. A1, it's because of his passion to play the game of football." -- defensive coordinator Luke Fickell