August 28, 2007

No more false starts

Terry Grant's time at The University of Alabama has been one of start-overs.

First, a shoulder injury early in his freshman season, suffered on a special teams play, forced him to take a redshirt. He had been on track for regular playing time on special teams, but the move gave him a start-over for his eligibility clock.

Then, like all his UA teammates, he started over with a new coaching staff. And finally, he had to start over his climb up the depth chart against several bigger, more experienced running backs.

Now, he's had it with start-overs. For Grant, it's time to start up.

"It's amazing how excited I am," Grant said. "Everyone is ready to see where we are as a team."

His season was derailed after just two carries for 22 yards against Louisiana-Monroe, including a 19-yarder, last year. He then underwent shoulder surgery, and Grant had plenty of time to think about his eventual return.

The journey back to playing time was a long one. Primarily, his competition at the position was Jimmy Johns and Glen Coffee. Surgery recovery for Roy Upchurch, and injury to Demetrius Goode and the transfer of freshman Jamar Taylor also helped pave Grant's ascension.

"It's just a fight with yourself. If you want it bad enough, you'll try to get it," Grant said. "I worked hard and hard work pays off. I was down because of the surgery and going to the bottom of the depth chart. It was a fight with myself just wanting to get better."

Grant showed why he was a four-star recruit out of Lumberton, Miss., quickly with impressive scrimmage performances in Fall camp of 2006. He was named Mr. Football in the state of Mississippi as a senior, and rushed for more than 8,000 career yards and 115 touchdowns. But none of those accomplishments bought him an edge with Nick Saban's coaching staff.

Beginning in January, every player checked their accolades at the fieldhouse door. And Grant rose to the top of the depth chart anyway.

"From our standpoint, Terry Grant has done a good job," said Saban Monday.

Saturday, Grant will take the field with the first string offense to open the season against Western Carolina. Teammates have marveled at his speed and big-play ability. And while the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium will largely be focused on the dawning of the Nick Saban Era, the Terry Grant Era will be starting as well.

Re-starting, that is.

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