Curtis Grant's Newfound Poise, Purpose for Final Season at Ohio State

By Patrick Maks on August 23, 2014 at 6:00a
Linebacker Curtis Grant has one more year to prove he's an elite college football player.
Eleven Warriors' 2014 Ohio State Football Season Preview

Remember when Curtis Grant came to Ohio State as supposedly its next great linebacker? It feels like forever ago, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Or it might as well be.

After all, he’ll play the first game of his last season for the Buckeyes a week from today. And in that time, so much has changed to separate Curtis Grant, the five-star recruit, and Curtis Grant, the kid who hasn’t lived up to soaring expectations since signing a letter of intent to play for the Buckeyes three years ago. The journey from then to now has been hard. He’ll tell you himself.

Evaluate your career so far? “Average. Very average.”

Do you have something to prove? “Yeah, I kind of have a chip on my shoulder because I haven't lived up to what I wanted to live up to myself.”

These are the kind of questions Grant’s been asked over and over again for the better part of three seasons. So here’s a new one:

What would it take to make your senior season a success?

“Just to go all the way … And just have a great time. It's all about the time. If you don't have a great time and build something with the guys, it'll show on the field.”

Because at best, Grant’s senior season offers him a chance at closure -- not necessarily redemption. It seems too late for that. One successful season doesn’t suddenly vindicate the other three. His legacy is what it is. So Grant says he’s taken it upon himself to be a liaison between the past, the present and the future.

“The guys in the room need somebody to look up to,” he said, “so I'm not going to put them on the back burner thinking about myself.”

And generally speaking, thinking is what landed Grant here in the first place.

“I didn't have the confidence that I needed coming in and I was thinking too much, not playing the game,” he said.

There’s also apparently a correlation between thinking and confidence. The more Grant seemed to dwell on things, the worse he performed on the field and the less confident became.

“Curtis has always got the ability. There’s some things that we’ve seen, and some guys can say this and that about him, but the reality is when a guy’s not in a good place in his mind, it’s really tough,” co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said.

“Not to give Curtis an excuse or anything, but he’s had a lot of tough things that’ve happened and things haven’t quite gone his way since the day he walked in here.”

It’s a story that’s well-documented. Like how Grant nearly quit football after his freshman season, how he got benched after winning the starting job early as a sophomore, how he almost transferred because of it, and how injuries hampered the hulking 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker in 2013. So why is this season is supposed to be any different?

“His confidence level has really gone up,” Fickell said. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”

Added fellow linebacker Joshua Perry: “Right now, I think that he’s showing that he knows more than he’s ever known about the game. It’s ridiculous, he knows that he can play ball with the best of them and he gives us energy so when Curtis is having a great day, everybody else is having a great day,” he said.

“I think that’s also a thing with the guys on defense right now. When our older guys are playing really well, I think that we all play pretty good.”

And for a defense that lost former stud linebacker Ryan Shazier, he can’t be just a guy taking space up on the field. Grant needs to produce for the Buckeyes on the field and in the huddle. People are looking up to him.

“I tell you what, he’s a different kid. And I shouldn’t say kid, he’s a different man," Fickell said. "He’s battled through a lot of things, he’s got a lot of confidence in what he’s doing. He’s the passion and energy of that defense right now."

That's all well and good. But if Grant wants to evade being labeled a bust at Ohio State, he'll need to make good on that newfound poise and purpose. 


Comments Show All Comments

BoFuquel's picture

Good luck Curtis. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

+4 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

One successful season doesn’t suddenly vindicate the other three. His legacy is what it is

I don't necessarily agree with this.  He obviously hasn't lived up to expectations, and he admits that.  But, the guy lost his father for one.  Speaking from experience, that's not an easy thing to go through.  He's always had the tools physically, but outside of the nagging injuries, it's been all mental with him.  If he comes out this year and shines like the player who was ranked as highly as he was, I wouldn't say it vindicates the previous 3yrs, but I think it steers the conversation in a different direction.


Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+25 HS
BuckeyeinSavannah's picture

I agree with this.  How many players have really shined their final year and then they become a household name.

+5 HS
CC's picture

I'm not sure of many broke out as seniors, but lot of guys went from unknown one year to breakout the next.  Eddie during his junior year for example.

+1 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

We all know who Curtis Grant is because we follow recruiting and tOSU.  What percentage of CFB fans even know who Curtis Grant is?  I think he could probably be considered an unknown to at least 90-95% of the country.  He's not on any draft boards either.  So if he lights it up, I think you could consider him going from an unknown to an everyday name, especially with his measurables,  and playing in a power conference.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+5 HS
GVerrilli92's picture

Will he have an All-American season? Probably not. Is he capable of it? Sure.

I expect remarkable improvement, maybe All-B1G mention-type season. But I don't expect 100 tackles. I think he can have a very similar season to Etienne Sabino's senior year, although hopefully the better surrounding cast will net more wins.

I just don't understand how these issues aren't being coached up though. You would think that a kid's confidence would be very easy to build if you're talking about the starting LB at tOSU. But personal issues suck, let's just hope everything is in balance for him and it equates to the development of a mean streak on the field. The dude can flat out lay the wood, he just needs to go out and play the game.

Also expecting Chris Ash to have an impact on Grant's play. Now that the back 7 is a cohesive unit and the strong safety makes all of the calls, it should mean less to think about for Curtis.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

El Guapo... Troy Smith... etc etc.

many, many players have truly shone in their final year before leaving (sometimes early because of it)

here's hoping we see several more this season

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

+1 HS
robobuck's picture

I absolutely believe that if he goes out of his mind and has an all American year that he will be remembered as that. We will remember that it took a while for the light to come on but it would be a truckload of redemption and nothing less

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

+5 HS
Findog5's picture

All things considered, seems like this young man has handled his challenges. Didn't give up and I hope his payback is a monster season!!!

Raleigh Buckeye

+22 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Sorry for the ff dv. Can someone help undo that?

+1 HS
GoBucksToledo's picture
+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Dammit, I hate my phone. Sorry!

+1 HS
aboynamedtracy's picture

Actually, YOU can correct that.

+5 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Thanks, Tracy! I never knew that.

ArizonaBuckeye's picture

I hope Grant can finally piece it together this season. I'm so pumped to see what this improved defense looks like. I really think Coach Johnson and Ash will prove the difference maker. A return to Silver Bullets this season??? I flippin' hope so. Go Bucks!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." -Woody Hayes-

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

In some ways I think Curtis Grant's story at OSU has mirrored that of Rod Smith. I don't have any proof, just a gut feeling, but something tells me that these two are going to have a very good year.



+2 HS
Habu71's picture

I really like the thought of those two having a monster year. Both of them are due, and both play high profile positions. It may not be redemption, but it would certainly be right on time for this team. 

+6 HS
kc_buck's picture

I've said this before in another post:
In my opinion, a National Championship depends on both seniors Curtis Grant and Rod Smith making truly epic contributions... even if Smith is doing so as a non-starter.  Their leadership is key!

By "epic" I mean:
SMITH - 500+ total yards... plus Rod leading/guiding/pushing Elliot to surpass Rod's own totals. THAT is the type of unselfish senior leadership we desperately need from Rod.
GRANT - 100+ tackles and Curtis (along with Bennett) leading the Front-7 in a return to Silver Bullet status.

+2 HS
Geraffi's picture

I agree with JohnnyKozmo. A great season from Curtis can reshape his legacy. It only takes one year. 

It has to be hard, coming in with so much hype, then struggling to live up and getting dragged through the mud by the fans and media, and being fully aware. 

I have a lot of respect for Curtis. He has fought through many challenges and seems to be coming out on the other side a better man. Whether he is a better football player remains to be seen, but football is a game, life is not. 

Rise up, Curtis! This Buckeye fan is pulling for you!

+3 HS
TURD_BUCKET's picture

I  would love to see both Curtis Grant and Rod Smith have monster seasons. Not just for the team and fans, but for themselves. C/mon dudes, bring it!

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” John Wooden

+3 HS
VintonCountyBuck's picture

I am rooting for Curtis Grant.. I really am.

But, I will never be able to get Jim Heacock's statement that Curtis would be better off with his hand on the ground, and not having to think so much.  From anyone else, I wouldn't have been so concerned.  Heacock, however, was one of the best Coordinators in the game.

Hopefully this year Curtis is able to put it together.. We are going to need him to lead a stout defense, now, moreso than ever, with Braxton out.

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

+2 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

From all accounts, this year's Defense is much more simplified, and for the most part will be a "read and react" defense, instead of a "read, think about what you should do, what everyone else is doing, and then react" defense.  I hope that leads to a monster year for Curtis.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+2 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

We need his leadership and excellent performance this year.

Matt M.'s picture

We can talk all day long, but I think it'll take Raekwon to actually perform. I'm expecting 'Kwon to be a BEAST out there. Haven't seen anything from Grant that deserves the spot other than being a senior who has been through some rough times. I feel for the kid, but until I see it on the field, this is my honest opinion. I'd love nothing more than for Curtis to have a breakout season, though.

+1 HS
allinosu's picture

Grant played pretty well last year before his injury. 'Kwon has never played a college game yet to prove anything. We will need both of them to perform well.

+4 HS
luckynutz's picture

Kwon is the future no doubt. Right now though, this team needs guys like Curtis Grant and Rod Smith. If for nothing else, to show these young guys that it takes more than physicak talent to succeed. You are talking about two guys who came in with all the hype and accolades a kid can garner. And have shown that there are pitfalls to all that hype. That there are speedbumps and potholes along the way. And you have to push through all the negativity, tought times and adversity to truly understad what this game means to you.

Two who almost quit and one who was told point blank to move along because he woukdnt be good enough. And both of them have put in the work. Its time to see it translate to the field. I know everyone is excited for the young pups...they are physically impressive and nipping at the heels. But the Old Heads are far more important. Guys like this may not see a down of pro football. But they are crucial to your program...especially in times like these. When you need leaders, guys who have seen the lowest of lows and climbed the ladder. I love that these guys have the strength to fight and not concede failure. It may have taken awhile, but its high time these two get their moment. Ive been pulling for both of them through it all. And I love that they are both here.

southbuc's picture

Have you seen Kwan on the field?

+1 HS
73buckeye's picture

It's pretty common to hear experts talk about the speed of the game, and how it ratchets up from high school to college and again to the pros. Then it's also not uncommon to hear really good, physically gifted players say that one day, things just start to click, and the game slows down. Maybe that time is here for Curtis Grant. If he plays to his potential and leads this defense to great things this year, all will be forgiven. One championship will make these past three years of disappointment melt away. 


+1 HS
Jpfbuck's picture

hoping Grant puts it together at least as well as Sabino did a few years ago.

comparing him the Rod Smith though i think is a bit too harsh to Grant

Grant has been at least a part time starter at times (approx 20 starts the last 2 years) and even though he hasn't been overly productive he has been on the field a ton

Smith has been on offensive after thought, often buried 3 or 4 deep on the chart and even though he has played in the same number of games as Grant (31), he has never been a starter and has only once been the #2 guy when we had guys hurt and depleted early in 2012 i believe. otherwise he has been a mop up duty kind of player with no major role in games

I hope both have satisfying final years and both break out big time..

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

comparing him the Rod Smith though i think is a bit too harsh to Grant

While they have not been exact copies, both are seniors that have underperformed. Grant has certainly had more opportunities and playing time than R. Smith and not performed to expectations. So if anything, I think I may have been too harsh on Smith in my comparison. It's all good though, JPFBuck. Just my perception. We're all on the same side here.



-1 HS
OSUBias's picture

I'm rooting for this kid to succeed, because he deserves to prove it to himself that he belongs. I'm not worried about production for the sake of wins and losses (the drop off between him and Raekwon is not large). His story just makes you feel for him. Maybe it's because he's so huge and so soft spoken and quiet and just seems sort of sad. Just want him to enjoy himself while crushing some fools. 

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

+1 HS
Montana silver bullet's picture

Pretty sick of people not giving kids a chance because they haven't starred by their junior season. Some simply take longer to develop, but how many are NOT better as seniors than they were as underclassman? You could have a very long list of players who didn't start or play much until their senior year and then put it together. 

Montana Silver Bullet

+2 HS
RUNTOWIN's picture

The premise of this article is horse shit. To think that a guy, you don't even know, is a bust because he disappointed you in regard to not meet expectations you dreamed up for him is pathetic.  The cycle is being repeated with RM.  People are detached from reality. They expect these 18 year old kids to be like super heroes and they don't know all the things that go into being a great player. Not the least of which is dealing with your life and the lives of your family outside of football. 

I love 11 Warriors  but this article sucked. 

+3 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I'm not sure, but I don't think anybody is calling Grant a "bust," yet. If they are, they are prolly the same fans that start the "fire Fickell" threads the first time the defense doesn't play well.



+1 HS
Steelydan54's picture

Really?  I can absolutely guarantee that no one is harder on Curtis Grant than Curtis Grant.  Our fan site mumblings are no more than background noise to all these players and coaches who know FAR better than the 95% of us who have not competed at anywhere near this level.  The reason we watch very young men play a game is to get caught up in the drama of it all, and the speculation of who is, or is going to be great, is, or may have underperformed to our expectations.  And I haven't even commented on our slavish devotion to an educational institution and it's identity as a sports powerhouse???  

Curtis Grant, and so many others like him CHOOSE to compete in this very environment because it challenges them as people to be their very best, knowing that once you're out there there is absolutely no where to hide if you fail or fail to live up to your own (and others expectations).  We watch, comment, etc... because we get to succeed and fail vicariously through their efforts.  It's great fun to make it all about us, but it's really all about them and their skills, stories and lives.  Of course, if weren't so attractive to the masses, we'd all do something else on Saturday and Sunday, and these guys wouldn't be out there to start with. 

So we cheer, speculate, ridicule, get heartbroken, swell with pride and a thousand other emotions all because of a completely vicarious experience that we have NO real part in.  And you are pissed because a guy wrote an article saying a guy hasn't lived up to our expectations???  Go mow your yard.


Colerainbuck's picture

You defend your right to have a location like 11W to express YOUR opinions and then post a bile filled angry comment on someone else's opinion????

Anyone else get a chuckle out of this?

And following your precedence...Go stand on your porch and yell at kids to get off the lawn....while watching him mow his hehehe

Geraffi's picture

The premise of this article is horse shit. To think that a guy, you don't even know, is a bust because he disappointed you in regard to not meet expectations you dreamed up for him is pathetic. 

Keep in mind, though, that Grant himself feels that he has underperformed. I what I take from this article is that Grant is embracing his role as a leader, and taking a somewhat different, and hopefully more successful approach to this season that he and the fans hope is successful. 

Saying his legacy is set in stone before he takes the field for his senior season is where I think most fans find fault in this article (as seen in posted responses), but that's not the only message. 

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
saltybuck61's picture

I do 't think he called him a bust at all. He is just saying he didn't live up to massive expectations that were largely unfair. That isn't necessarily the opinion of the author, but it is a widely accepted opinion. He was the #2 recruit behind Jadeveon Clowney. People expected him to be an All American and be gone to the NFL by now.

whiskeyjuice's picture

I just want to see the team play as a unit and help each other do their roles and win games. If OSU goes undefeated, makes the playoffs and wins the first NC since BCS with Grant as the starting LB, he will be remembered in a positive manner. 

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

Texasbucksfan's picture

I totally agree withb Run. Just because someone assigns multiple stars to kids, we set expectation and fans are disappointed if the kid doesn't live up to them. I am rooting for this kid to see him succeed and so I don't ever have to read another article on here about what a disappointment he has been. I love site but I am tired of every Curtis Grant article starting off by stating what a disappointment he has been. As a young man trying to find himself and his game, I am sure it doesn't help that every time he sees his name on a "fan site", 90 percent the article details how he was highly rated and ssupposed to come in and be an All American but yet he has failed miserably. And then the final 10% says that he seems to be playing well now but with his past we can't be sure. How could the kid regain his confidence when he has been continually reminded how he has failed to live up to that dumbasses star system. Please, 121W staff, if you writeban other article on this kid, do it on his success on the field, or on his shoe size or hair but stay away from the failure to live up to expectations. It has been done to death and I for one am tired of it.

Still love the site. 11W is my go to site for OSU.

+2 HS
ibuck's picture

^^  This.  The way Bauserman was/is treated is awful. OSU's players, who are young men finding their way, and generally not reprehensible creeps*, deserve our respect, even if they don't perform they way we hope.

*And even if they do slip up, they deserve another chance.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+2 HS
wyatt's picture
+1 HS
sb97's picture

Like so many others, I thought the idea that he cant do anything about his legacy is just terrible.  If Grant comes in and turns in a solid season then I will remember him asa guy that developed into a solid player over his time here.  The fact that he was a 5* will not factor into that. 

I have never heard anything stating the Grant was a slacker or didn't want to put in work.  So if he puts in the time and effort to become a good linebacker then he should be remembered for it.

+2 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Maurice Clarett would disagree that you can't build a legacy in one year.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+2 HS
chirobuck's picture

His greatest contribution might be that part about how he is trying to mentor the young guys, getting guys like booker and kwon started off right might pay off huge down the road........with that being said I do expect him to have a very good senior campaign and go out on a high note


^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
Buckloving's picture

Keep your head up young man..........You can be anything you want to be


buckskin's picture

The biggest problem with myself is expectations.  I have watched Speilman, Hawk, Lil Animal, Big Kat, and Wilheim dominate from the MLB position and when I hear a 5 star has signed on with the good guys, I assume he is just going to step right in and do the same.  Mike D'Andrea was another 5 star LB who didn't fulfill my expectations, for various reasons.  Curtis has all the measurables, but he struggles in the unmeasurables; and at MLB, these are critical for his success.  With that being said, I hope he finally gets it this year and plays strong without thinking at all.  Pure instincts and continue the tradition of great OSU MLBs.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I agree with what a lot of people are saying here.  Last year he did have a pretty good season, not to the level of Ryan, but who can really hit that level.  He was solid.  Yes, he didn't do much his first couple of years.  If he has a good season this year then I think it will still allow for him to be considered having a good career.  If he is able to really turn it on and become all B1G or even All American then he can still enter into the discussions of some of the better LBs to play at OSU.  I sure am hoping that he can really turn it on this year and everything starts to click for him!

Go Bucks!!

RUNTOWIN's picture

I've been out mowing my grass, what have I missed? 

+1 HS
OSU725's picture

Buckeye Nation is behind you 100%!!!! Go show the world what you are made of #14!!!!

+1 HS
southbuc's picture

I love preseason speculation. 

Balkestud's picture

Due to our abundance of pass rushers on the line and our new aggressive coverage schemes, not to mention The Chef breathing down his neck, I truly believe Curtis will get every oppurtunity to have a great season. Teams will want to run the ball on us more this year and that plays into what he does best. Hopefully Bennett and Washington can do their part and keep him clean as much as possible. I am pulling for you Curtis and I think you have a shot at first team all big ten

It gets kind of rough in the back of my limousine,



2002osubuck's picture

I would love to see Grant have an awesome year and finally be the beast we've all been waiting for. From the sound of it, he's doing well in this new D and it should help everyone overall. 

ek68's picture

I bought into all the hype surrounding Curtis and could not wait to see him perform. I see Curtis being a total bust. Regardless of all the issues surrounding his time @ OSU, Curtis hasn't played up to expectations. I've waited for 3 years and for a MLB @ OSU he is below average. This is my opinion & I hope Curtis will prove me wrong.




buckeye phi's picture

This defense will have senior leadership at every level.  Bennett up front, Duron Grant at corner and Curtis Grant at middle linebacker.  Is there a better spot from which to exhibit leadership than in the middle of everything?

No matter what has held him back in the past, does anybody really think that he wouldn't take his place among the greats if he becomes known as the leader of the 2014 national championship defense?

Assuming last years horrid pass defense was an aberration, and there is a return of the Silver Bullets - Grant will be in a perfect position to achieve the greatness that has eluded him thus far.

No matter how quickly the talented young guys on the offense begin to realize their potential - this year, a championship run will most likely be led by the defense.

And that's nothing new.  As the old saying goes, "defense wins champioships".

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. - Will Rogers

tGW's picture

Unleash the fury, Mitch.

"Have a nice trip...Michaelllll."

dubjayfootball90's picture

I think Grant is on the verge of a great season. I really think he is going to explode on the scene.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Can anyone say Etenne Sabino? Like Grant he was a huge get at LB for OSU. High expectations, but very little success his first three years, then exploded his Senior year. If Grant can do the same he will get drafted. Another reason for him to have a big Senior year.

BuCkIfReAk's picture

I bet reading articles like this for 3 years hasn't done much for his confidence. I thought he played well last year, when he was out there.

Mark May is an alien.