It’s sort of ironic that former Akron linebacker and iron man Kevin Grant would downplay the impact of in-game action.
It’s ironic because he saw a whole lot of in-game action in his four years at the University of Akron. In fact, he saw just about every minute he could possibly see.
Grant started in 49 straight games as a member of the Akron Zips, playing perhaps the most taxing position on the field—inside linebacker. However, Grant actually claims it’s the work on the practice field and in preparation for those consecutive games that helps him the most.
“Games aren’t won on game day,” Kevin explains. “Games are won prior to your season and in your week of preparation.”
Wise words from a young man trying to make his mark on scouts from the NFL at the upcoming Pro Day at his school. And in a world where everybody is trying to avoid the next Pacman Jones, a casual fan has to wonder what Kevin doesn’t have to offer.
He’s got the size to play at the next level. At 6’2’’ 250 pounds, he’s already got the muscle and strength that some smaller players at the collegiate level need to put on to translate to the next level. So what’s the issue? Is there possibly a small school bias involved?
“I don’t think that playing at a small school has affected me too much, other than the fact that I might be sneaking up on some people,” Kevin says, with a persistent attitude that again reflects his will to succeed, even when faced with the confusing issue of getting ignored despite his on-the-field accomplishments.
“If anything, people might say, ‘Hey, this guy is a lot better than I realized' [once they see me play].”
But for whatever reason, Grant hasn’t gotten the attention that some of his closer followers around the MAC know he deserves. The biggest obstacle in the eyes of pro scouts? Speed and measurements.
“I just want to get my speed a little better, and improve my numbers, things like that,” Grant said when asked what exactly he had to prove at Akron’s pro day, where Zip football players will showcase their skills for prospective employers. Scouts have questioned his ability to move like an NFL player and chase down ball carriers, but he’ll have the chance to prove all of them wrong in Akron.
Although he might not be clocking superior 40 times and vertical leaps, the off-the-field intangibles certainly seem to be all there for Kevin. In a league where late-round picks often turn into stars because of an amazing work ethic and a level head, Grant certainly seems to fit that profile. Already a confessed game film junkie, he admits to watching more film than any teammate he’s ever had.
The most important element of a linebacker is unquestionably their tenacity. And that’s something that Kevin certainly developed during his years in college.
“[Those years] taught me that, in everything that I do, to prepare for the most extreme situations, to always be prepared for everything. As a person, just be persistent and try hard in everything that you do.”
No matter how next week’s combine goes for Kevin, there’s no question that this is just the beginning for him. Just like 329 plays that he made in his four years as a Zip, Kevin has got this dream in his sights. You’re crazy if you think he’s going to stop before he chases it down.