Nearing the End of an Underwhelming Career, Curtis Grant's Legacy Hinges Upon a Lifeline

By Patrick Maks on July 21, 2014 at 1:05p
Curtis Grant enters his final season at Ohio State, looking to go out with a bang.

It was a game against Wisconsin that was supposed to be the first of many steps toward redemption in the disappointing career of Curtis Grant.

“This is, without question, a defining moment in his career," coach Urban Meyer said days before a primetime bout with the Badgers and their fearsome running attack last September.

Grant proved Meyer right: the middle linebacker filled the stat sheet with seven tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss.

But the night, a 31-24 win that gave Ohio State its 17th-straight victory, exposed the beginnings of a defense that would eventually come undone before the end of the season.

For Grant, it was a mirage of the kind of success that’s eluded him for the better part of three years. Ankle and back injuries hampered him the rest of the way and, in a position that lends itself to production, he finished with 52 tackles, four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. It was regarded as another underwhelming year. 

With his final campaign in the Scarlet and Gray looming in the not-so-distant future, this isn’t another story asking whether this is finally the year Grant puts it all together. It’s too late for that.

This is, however, a story about how Grant can salvage an underwhelming career that will surely end in a most unexpected way after coming to Columbus as a consensus five-star recruit out of Richmond, Va.

For even someone as strapping as the 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior linebacker, the weight of expectations have been incredibly heavy.

“Everybody just expects you to be this unstoppable guy,” Grant said. “But what they don’t understand is that it takes time.”

Which is true. But some in the fanbase have grown impatient. With the resources at a school known for churning out All-American and future NFL linebackers, Grant, who was supposed to ascend into Buckeye lore with them someday, is fighting for his starting job against another five-star recruit in freshman Raekwon McMillan.  

Fair or not, he faces the possibility of leaving Ohio State as a bust. It comes with the territory.

That's why this can't be another story asking if this is finally the year Grant puts it all together because it's irrelevant.

In a career that’s been anything but storybook, it doesn't matter whether the figurative light bulb in his head pops on anymore. In this final season, he is who he is. And maybe, that’s not the five-star talent a group of somebodies decided he was.

“That’s just a label that someone gave you,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, it’s all about what you do on the field.

“If you come out here as a five star and you don’t do anything, then you look like an idiot.”

To say Grant’s accomplished nothing would be unfair. But he’s underachieved.

Lately, he’s an afterthought, too. People want to talk about McMillan; they want to talk about Joshua Perry, Darron Lee, Kyle Berger, Dante Booker and Justin Hilliard, who’s still in high school. They want to talk about the young talent and the future of a unit Meyer continues to lament over. 

Grant’s playing days have come during a time that’s seen Ohio State struggle at a position that’s traditionally well-stocked and brimming with talent.

Grant was supposed to be the next great Buckeye linebacker. All along, it might’ve been an unfair expectation of a kid who didn’t get to choose how many stars he got by a recruiting service. He didn't ask for the expectations. They came on their own. 

Grant probably won't suddenly blossom into the All-American talent some people thought he’d be. But his greatest asset to an Ohio State defense and a crop of young linebackers are his experiences, both good and bad.

“We need senior leadership,” defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said. “You can say what you want, but you’re best when your seniors play best.”

This isn’t another story asking whether this is the year Curtis Grant finally puts it together. He doesn’t have a choice anymore.


Comments Show All Comments

Ajake15's picture

Can Hilliard start now?

Buster Tillman was underrated

-10 HS
RunEddieRun1983's picture

This really doesn't have much of an effect on me.  Maybe i've become jaded to it, but this "five star doesn't make good on hype" story happens so much that it's really old hat.  It is however unfortunate when it happens to a Buckeye, and I really have a lot of respect for how Curtis Grant has handled all this backlash coming his way because he hasn't lived up to the hype others put on him.  I will say this though, as far as "it takes time" well, Mr. Grant keep in mind there is a hungry young wolf right on your heels, and he doesn't care about time, he's ready to go right now.  I really hope he shows what he's capable of this year.  GO BUCKS!

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

+13 HS
sharks's picture

Forget legacy, he's playing for a paycheck next year. He has the size, talent, and experience; now he has to put it all together.

A man got to have a code...

+13 HS
Groveport Heisman's picture

Exactly...Curtis Grant is like a NFL free agent getting ready to play in his contract year. I expect a very solid year out of him and when he was fully healthy last year he looked solid and very improved. It wouldnt surprise me one bit to see him explode on to the awards scene this year and be a solid draft pick.

Mark my words..I don't need acceptance. I'm catching interceptions on you innocent pedestrians.

+4 HS
Fly Patterns's picture

It would surprise me lots of bits.

+5 HS
Hovenaut's picture

The past is just that.

I'm rooting for CG, Rod Smith as well. Nothing wrong with underclassmen coming in and contributing when possible, but I agree with Fickell - the importance of senior leadership cannot be understated.

+11 HS
DefendYoungstown's picture

Don't you,mean Rod Jones?

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

+2 HS
seafus26's picture

Who? Rod Smith will also be a senior

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

BeijingBucks's picture

Beth approves of this message

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

CTBuckeye's picture

I hope Grant does put together a great season, and becomes a leader for a young LB group.  While he might not live up to the hype or the initial 5 star ranking (which, as many will point to, is pretty arbitrary for a 17-18 year old kid), he can still leave a long lasting and positive impact on the Buckeyes team and fan base.  All the best in the coming season.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

+1 HS
Patriot4098's picture

Grant is just as talented as Kwon. We just choose not see it like that some times. Kwon doesn't get to watch Shazier do everything right this year. That is why I hope Curtis Grant steps up in a big way. Could be very beneficial for some of the young stars to watch Grant's story unfold.

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

+2 HS
QBYBuckeye's picture

Other than being a rabid Buckeye fan, I don't have standing to evaluate whether Grant or anyone else who dons the Scarlet and Grey has been a bust or a success.  I want a dominant defense, but isn't it coaches who select who to offer scholarships, who to play, how to deploy players, and how to develop kids into men?  I try to separate "he is a great football player" from "he is a great person I would want my daughter to date."  The latter is the more important, but I certainly don't know enough to have the answer to either question.  All I know right now is:

Go Buckeyes.  Beat Navy!

New York Buckeye

Kid Buckeye's picture

Fickell saying things again.

If your senior(s) aren't good enough to be on the field then DO NOT play them just for senior leadership.

-10 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

That is NOT what he said. He said 'when your seniors play well, your defense benefits.'

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+7 HS
Young_Turk's picture

BTN had a great profile piece on Raymont Harris aka "The Quiet Storm".  I guess he didn't start until his senior season.  Pretty tough to break into the starting tailback role when your predecessor is Robert Smith and your successor is Eddie George.  He thought about transferring but decided to stay.  I'd love to see Curtis have a similar break-out in his farewell tour.  


+5 HS
Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Great sentiment, but Raymont had shown flashes before his senior season. He just had talented guys in front of him. The unfortunate thing with Curtis Grant is that he hasn't showed much to this point. If he becomes a really good player, it would be out of left field. It doesn't mean he can't do it, it just means we haven't seen anything to give the impression that he will. I hope for his sake, it comes together for him.

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

He knows what he has to do. He will not be mentioned in the same class as Laurinaitis, Speilman, or even Shazier, as Buckeye LB greats are discussed, and as this story suggests it's too late for that. But he can go down swinging, and make an impact on a young team and maybe earn himself a look from the NFL. I can think of worse positions to be in...

Good luck Mr. Grant and GO BUCKS!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

+1 HS
808buckeye's picture

C'mon Curtis I believe in you.. Get your poop together man 

seize the carpe

+5 HS
808buckeye's picture

Please take my eyes but don't take my helmet stickers

seize the carpe

+1 HS
sivaDavis's picture

In my honest opinion, I really think he could be good this year. The simplifying of the defense, the added walkout linebacker will all be great pluses for Grant. When you don't have to think about 20 things before the ball snaps, it's always a good thing. More base defense will be a good thing. The walkout linebacker is great for Grant, a linebacker group that can consist of 3 guys that can mesh and be thrown out there against any offense they have to face is really really, really important. I'm rooting for CG. He needs to perform on the field and also lead some of these young linebackers that will be playing for the next couple years. Curtis Grant is important, we need him to be. 

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+3 HS
BAR43's picture

As many have mentioned, I hope CG gets the level he is capable of and he personally expects. I think he has solid attributes but I think he is limited by the intangible "football sense". This is nothing against CG, but some kids just have this innate ability to play the position, regardless of physical attributes. Shazier is a perfect example of this. He came on the scene as a freshman and you could just see it in how he played the game. unfortunately this is a very difficult light bulb to just turn on, most people just have it on all the time, if at all. Hoping he can prove me wrong, but I am expecting an adequate senior performance, and just hope he meets whatever personal goals he has set out for himself to measure his career.

THEOSUfan's picture

I'm from the camp that if a dog will bite, he will bite as a pup. The fact that we are here in Grant's senior year hoping that he will bite pretty much says it all.

I'm also from the camp that leaders cannot be conjured, appointed, or declared.  Leaders are leaders because they lead, and others follow, without anyone ever having to say that they are a leader.

That said, Curtis is a Buckeye, and no one would be happier to see him play like a star at MLB and to lead a stout defense.  That said, if that was going to happen, I think we would have already seen it.

CC's picture

I agree.  I feel like the very best we could hope for is something like Ross Homan's last year.  Not that Homan was bad but all the hype made you think he would be the next great one.  IMO Homan was really good, just not great.

Apparently some don't agree with me because he is on the Butkus watch list... huh?

buckeyedude's picture

You guys(Bar43,THEOSUfan, CC, OSU407, and ELJTSA76) need to get a new ICON! Stat!  You all have the same one and it's confusing. I'll hook you up with a guy that knows just what to do! His name is Buckeyefan, and he changed is icon once.



+1 HS
Boxley's picture

Actually it was "Bucksfan" the changed his icon, which led to a legendary thread. That thread kept growing for more than year with some of the best postings ever. Look it up guys if you have never seen it. Pretty darn good thread.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Woody4's picture

All I know is,  it'd be awesome if he has an explosive year, & am rooting for that.

+1 HS
osu407's picture

I know "what if"s mean nothing but I'm very curious what last years Curtis Grant would have looked like if he was not nagged by injury. 

ELJTSA76's picture

Man, we are scraping the bottom of the barrel with a story on Curtis Grant's legacy. Kickoff can't get here soon enough for any of us it seems. 

-2 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Anythings possible.  Good luck Curtis.

+3 HS
buckeyedude's picture

All I have to say is that I hope Curtis Grant and his teammate Rod Smith have an All-B1G season. That's my wish. I really hope they both go out on a positive note.



+3 HS
Buckloving's picture

I really hope this kid has a breakout year but he'll never see the NFL


-3 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

i really hope we aren't putting all our hopes on freshmen.  They are the most prone to head scratching inconsistencies.  yes even the great ones will make mistakes.  As was said 'Best thing about Freshmen?  They become Sophomores'.  I wouldn't put up the best high school team against the worst team in the B1G (yeah Purdue I'm looking at you) and not expect them to get beat up on.  College game is different.  boys become men.  and hits they be a comin'.

'New love' is a thrill but, 'stable hard hitting love' is for(4 or so years)ever

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

bbb's picture

I don't see why this article was necessary; it seems like a repost of a repost of a repost. What else is new?

-2 HS
Boxley's picture

I don't see why you posted your comment, it seems irrelevant.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

BuckminsterFullback's picture

Sabino didn't really produce until he was a senior, when he had a solid, if unspectacular, season. So it's not too late for Grant to step forward.

+2 HS
BAR43's picture

 believe the article is stating just this... CG career is not capable of being spectacular or exploding at this point, but he can still make progress and lessen the gap of expected and actual performance. Its crazy the expectation that are put on these kids at such a young age, so I don't dare call him a bust because who are we to judge, but I do hope he is comfortable or happy with the results of his senior year closing out his career.

+1 HS
Dillon G's picture

Treg Lee put it all together at the end. I think he can too.

BucksFan2000's picture

The star system is flawed.  When a 3 star like AJ Hawk excels, it's pretty easy to recognize.  But when a 5 star struggles, people typically ask what's wrong.  Like they aren't working hard enough or something.

It's not like he gave himself a 5 star rating.  He seems like a good kid that's putting forth his best effort.  Best of luck to him on his senior season.

Citrus's picture

I thought Grant played decently last year, particularly stout run defense. He had some injuries that hobbled him up at the end of the year but he wa routinely sticking his nose in there, breaking up blocks, and taking away lanes. If he is healthy this year, you'll see some good production. I expect his game vs navy to be big. 

gbdawg's picture

Good Luck Curtis, hope you have a great year

11UrbzAndSpices's picture

I think Curtis Grant will be staring MLB on a nation championship team this year

"Quit skipping leg day bro" - Dr James Andrews