Cody Cousino / Photo editor
Linebacker Curtis Grant said he returns to the Ohio State football team a stronger man.
At one point, the sophomore said he wasn’t sure he wanted to return at all. But the support he received from his family and friends allowed him to persevere through a disconcerting time in his life last fall when he was not seeing much playing time, and he came to the decision that he wanted to remain a Buckeye. The biggest factor in his decision was one word: faith.
Grant said he got to such a low point after last season that he wasn’t sure he even wanted to continue playing football.
“It was a little hard because of expectations being so high,” Grant said. “I’ve always played since I was 6 and coming in and not playing, it was kind of depressing.”
He came to OSU as one of the highest-ranking high school linebacker prospects in the country. As a senior at Hermitage High School in Richmond, Va., he recorded 134 tackles and six sacks, earning him Parade All-American and “USA Today” All-American honors. He was also the leading tackler for the East squad in the 2011 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which pits some of the best high school football players in the country against each other.
Despite those accolades, Grant’s expectations might have played a role in not seeing a lot of the field last year. He said he was down on himself and didn’t feel like playing any more. That’s when, he said, he turned to his family and friends, and put his faith in God.
“I started talking to my parents and my family a lot more, reading the Bible and going to church and getting a better understanding of life,” he said. “You know, praying and asking God to guide me through.”
Grant said the transition from high school to college wasn’t what he expected, but the last year was good for him to catch up to the speed of the game. He feels he has adjusted, but can still get better.
“I’ve done pretty good, but it’s not great yet,” he said. “I try to keep progressing and working to get to the next level.”
Junior defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins tried to reassure Grant that at OSU, not all freshmen get to play right away.
“I told him once he stayed here for a while, let a year go on and he learned the defense, everything would come naturally to him,” Hankins said.
This spring Hankins said Grant has made a big step in everything it takes in being a linebacker. He also said it gives the defense a lot of inspiration that Grant is coming around and finally feeling comfortable.
“I feel comfortable with him behind me, playing. I think it’s going to be a good season for him,” Hankins said.
Senior punter Ben Buchanan is another teammate who said he feels Grant has made great strides on and off the field and said although Grant is still one of the younger guys on the team, some of the newer Buckeyes have already found him as someone to look up to.
“Curtis has done a great job. Younger guys are really starting to take a grasp towards him,” Buchanan said.