ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Fresh off The Athletic’s ‘freaks’ list, which highlights the 100 most freakish athletes in college football, first-year defensive tackle Kenneth Grant has seen his share of buzz heading into the season.
Many, including us, have opined that he’s the mystery freshman that Jim Harbaugh spoke of as ‘an absolute gift from the football gods’ at Big Ten media days, and Bruce Feldman’s inclusion of Grant on his list all-but seemed to confirm it. But, what makes him so freakish?
On Thursday, new Michigan defensive coordinator Jesse Minter met with the media to discuss what Grant brings to the table and why he’s been able to have such a quick ascent after arriving in Ann Arbor just two short months ago.
“He’s just another — he’s Mazi’s junior,” Minter said. “First and foremost, because of his attitude — very, very humble, very, very detailed. And his approach — which is extremely unique for a freshman that wasn’t here in the spring. He’s taken to everything Coach Elston has tried to teach him and get him to do, at a very impressive level for a young player.”
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Of course, learning from your position coach while being humble is one thing. But it takes a lot of work in summer conditioning also to get there.
Once he reported to camp, Grant came in as the team’s biggest player, according to the official roster, weighing in at a massive 357-pounds — a good 20-pounds heavier than Mazi Smith, the player to whom he’s being compared.
From what Minter’s seen, despite his size, like Smith, he has unparalleled agility, which is something that could help him see the field early and often.
“Same thing in the weight room. Over the course of June and July, you could sort of see him transform and take exactly what Coach Herb and the staff wanted him to do,” Minter said. “And then on top of that, he’s extremely gifted. He’s a 350-plus-pound human being that moves really well, that is really, really strong, naturally. And so, some of the things that we test those guys in, it’s pretty freakish to watch him go up the plyo steps, or move laterally, move side-to-side.
“So, blessed that we have him and I think he’s got a really, really high ceiling.”
Fans will get a chance to see Grant take the field likely some time in the Wolverines’ first three games. The season kicks off on Sept. 3, when Colorado State comes to The Big House.