In his time at Ohio State, Doran Grant became known as a man of few words during interviews. Such was the same at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where the talented cornerback was reserved when speaking to reporters this weekend.
Asked to offer a prediction for his 40-yard dash time, Grant — who was regarded as one of the fastest players on the Buckeyes’ roster — simply said, “I'd rather you guys just watch."
In a way, the moment seemed to define Grant, the quiet Akron, Ohio, native who was a top leader during Ohio State’s national championship campaign last season. He said his coaches urged him to lead with his words as much as his play on the field.
“They really challenged me to step out of my shell,” he told reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium. "It really worked for the better for the whole team."
Grant, though, said he’s a “natural-born leader.”
“I feel like verbally, my last two years — junior and senior year — is when I really stepped out of my shell,” he said. “I always led by example. I always did everything right. But leading more verbally and being that standout guy, my last two years, I think.”
For Grant, this is a selling point as he tries to convince potential NFL suitors of his worth.
“I know NFL teams want leadership, they want grown men on their team, and I think I can provide that also ... I've won everywhere I've been. I feel I can contribute and help another team win,” said Grant, who added he has talked to the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins.
Asked if he was under the radar at the combine, Grant said, “I got of got that vibe a little bit, but it's only a matter of time. That's why I'm not really nervous about anything, I'm just going to do what I can do and the future will come.”
Extra Notes: Grant on QB Quandary, Urban Meyer, new pass defense
- Days after Devin Smith, the Ohio State wide receiver, said he thought Cardale Jones would start at quarterback, Grant offered a similar take. "If I had to guess," he said, "I'd say Cardale Jones. In the last three games, even though those were his first three starts, to win games like that in the fashion he did was unheard of, really. You don't really see it at all. You know he can take on more.Obviously he couldn't do much more than what he did. He'll be ready." Grant added: "Braxton can throw the ball, but Cardale has a different arm.
- To win the national championship, the Buckeyes went through three starting quarterbacks (Jones, Miller and J.T. Barrett). Though Grant watched the situation unfold from the other side of the ball, he reflected on the national title. In particular, "defeating the three finalists for the Heisman Trophy back-to-back-to-back" stuck out to him. "Just doing it with the people you love, there's no better feeling. Especially holding up that trophy at the end of the day."
- Grant said he has a "great relationship" with Meyer. "I always said he was a great teacher. He knows how to get guys to perform," he said. "He's a great motivator. I love him. I love him for sure."
- Asked about the best part of Ohio State's postgame national title celebration at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Grant said: "I'd say the confetti angels from Coach Meyer."
- On defending teammate, friend and fellow combine member Devin Smith: "He's fast. He can jump, too, and he can adjust to the ball very well. We get good reps in practice."
- After a dismal display of pass defense in 2013, Ohio State hired Chris Ash to usher in an overhaul that ultimately worked for the Buckeyes. "We were able to play more aggressive. We were pressed up, our safeties played tighter to the line ... we were able to challenge a lot of throws on every down," Grant said. He added: "It obviously builds confidence throughout the team. It did for myself. It just got better and better each game."