D.J. Grant on a mission
Oct. 7, 2012
Gaby Moran, Texas Media Relations
Grant came to UT as a wide receiver recruit but changed to the tight end position during his redshirt freshman year. However, after suffering a knee injury during fall camp in 2009, Grant did not see his first collegiate game, or his first game as a tight end, until his junior year in 2011. Playing in all 13 games, Grant posted 16 catches for 180 yards (11.3 ypc), including three touchdowns to tie the team’s lead with the most receiving touchdowns.
“The past four years have been up and down for me because of the injury, but it gave me a lot of insight when I had to sit out,” Grant reflected. “It allowed me to be an outsider on what’s going on and what’s expected from me, instead of learning it while in the range of fire.”
Grant can find some lessons learned from his knee injury, which forced him to sit out for two years, because he feels it allowed him to gain insight into the inner-workings of becoming a better UT player.
In his first five games of his senior year, Grant has already registered eight catches for 92 yards (11.5 ypc) and one touchdown, including a 29-yard reception on fourth-and-six that kept the game-winning drive alive in Texas’ 41-36 win at Oklahoma State on September 29. Because of his breakout season last year, he was named to the 2012 College Football Performance Awards Tight End Trophy watch list.
“I want to leave a big mark on the school and the players,” Grant said. “When [the younger players] get ready to make the step to be seniors and the leaders for the team, I want them to have somebody to look back on and relate to.”
Being one of six seniors with major roles on the offense this year, Grant has taken some of the responsibility of being a leader and helping to guide the younger Longhorns this season.
“I always tell them to keep fighting and never give up because you never know when your chance will come,” Grant said. “What most people look at is how others react to disaster. So the way you react to disaster shows a lot of character, what kind of person you are, and the fight you have within you.”
His natural leadership skills extend from his participation in the Community of Brothers in Revolutionary Alliance (COBRA), an organization at his alma mater Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Austin, that helps students realize that academics matter and that they cannot get through high school or college simply by excelling in sports.
The benefits of that program stuck with Grant so much that he still finds time to visit LBJ and help the current students and teachers in any way he can.
“When the coaches need me to come by and talk to a player or if one of my teachers wants my help with one of their students who is having problems, I will go back and help,” Grant said.
Grant is currently double majoring in physical culture and sports and social work. If professional football does not work in the end, Grant plans to be a juvenile counselor, hopefully at LBJ High School or in the surrounding area.
“The area I am from has a lot of kids that get into trouble and after it happens a couple of times, many people turn their backs on them,” Grant said. “I just want to be that person to help them get their life back on track and give them a chance. People say that a bad egg will stay bad but I feel like these kids are young, they still have a life to live.”