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MONDAY, AUGUST 13, 2007
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Grant speeds
into lead

Tide redshirt freshman
ahead in tailback race

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — So who's the fastest among Alabama's football players?

Maybe record-setting wide receiver DJ Hall, kick return specialist Javier Arenas or cornerback Simeon Castille, a preseason first-team All-SEC selection.

But according to redshirt freshman running back Terry Grant, since he joined the Tide, nobody has challenged his speed, at least in practice foot races.

"I haven't been beat yet," Grant said. "We used to do a lot of racing last year, but we haven't been doing too much racing this year. We are so tired going through all the stuff, you don't have time to race."

The speedy Grant also is keeping pace in the race to start at tailback. In one of the surprise moves of preseason practice, the redshirt freshman from Lumberton, Miss., appears to have grabbed the feature tailback role.

It's a surprise mostly because of Grant's ups and downs during the 2006 season.

Grant started last year on the first team as a kick returner, but a shoulder injury knocked him out for the season early in the year.

He played only 15 snaps and carried the ball twice for 22 yards. He was granted a medical redshirt after the season, ensuring his freshman status.

But before Grant got to Tuscaloosa, he showed potential to be a shifty speed back. According to his Scout.com recruiting page, Grant was the fastest prospect in the state of Mississippi during the 2006 recruiting year.

It also says that he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. And along with rushing for 2,700 yards during his senior season with Lumberton (Miss.) High, Grant also ran track.

Grant idolized Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton when he was growing up, admiring Payton’s all-encompassing running style.

While Grant said that he is more of a “quick and shifty” back than a power runner like Payton was, he has made strides in the size department.

According to head coach Nick Saban, Grant added muscle over the summer to his now 5-foot-10, 188-pound frame, making him bigger and more durable.

But coming into the 2007 season, it appeared that Jimmy Johns would take over as Alabama’s starting tailback. Saban, however, moved the 6-2, 230-pound Johns to fullback, opening up the competition at running back and giving Grant an opportunity.

So far, Grant has taken his chance and put himself in solid position to have more playing time.

In the team’s first scrimmage of preseason practice, Grant had 110 yards on 10 carries, scoring one touchdown.

“He has made nice progress for us since we have been here,” Saban said. “He has gotten a little bit bigger and stronger in the summer, which will be helpful with his durability.”

It should help Grant that Saban prefers to use two running backs, which reduces the load on the first-team guy.

Saban used it at LSU and has mentioned that he would like to employ a similar philosophy at Alabama.

So far, Grant and sophomores Roy Upchurch and Glen Coffee appear to be part of the trio fighting for the two spots.

But are they as fast as Grant? Just ask Saban.

“Apparently (Grant) is pretty fast,” Saban said. “That is what I see, too.

Terry Grant at a glance

  • Played 15 snaps during his freshman season in 2006. Carried two times for 22 yards with a run of 19 yards against Louisiana-Monroe. Missed the final nine games of the season because of an injury.

  • Since he appeared in so few games, he qualified for a medical redshirt from the NCAA and didn’t lose a year of eligibility. He still has four years remaining.

  • Played for Lumberton (Miss.) High and scored 113 career touchdowns, which is only two short of the state record.

  • Rushed for 2,700 yards and 36 touchdowns as a high school senior and was named Mississippi’s Mr. Football.

    Josh Cooper

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