There will be no holding back Janarion Grant in his final season on the Banks


grantreturning
Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez |

Senior wide receiver Janarion Grant returns a punt 69 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter of Rutgers 37-28 win over New Mexico in 2016. 


Rutgers wide receivers coach Jafar Williams has a tall take heading into his second season on the Banks.

He is tasked with putting together a wide receiving corpsconsisting of players from all different backgrounds with varying experience.

One one end, he has Damon Mitchell, a graduate transfer from Arkansas who has played just about every position on the football field. There is also true freshman Bo Melton, who has gained tons of buzz not even halfway through preseason camp. But who could forget the star of the team in 5th-year senior Janarion Grant, who is seeking to break the NCAA all-time record for return touchdowns in a career while holding down the starting slot receiver role.

Grant came to Rutgers as a three-star cornerback recruit from Trilby, Florida and wasted no time making a name for himself, as the first time he touched the ball, he returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Fresno State in the 2013 season opener.

He would struggle to find a place on offense, as he had just 3 catches on the year. He slowly developed into a dual-threat skill player, rushing for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns while catching 20 passes for 210 yards in just 4 games last year, in addition to throwing a touchdown pass.

But in that fourth game of his senior year, he suffered an achilles injury in a loss to Iowa and would not step on the field for the rest of the season.

Due to the timing of his injury, however, the NCAA awarded him a fifth year of eligibility, one that he elected to stay at Rutgers for.

"He's very excited about returning but also very excited about the progress that he's made as a wide receiver," Williams said.

With that progress doesn't necessarily come more playing time at wide receiver, but that isn't a bad thing, as head coach Chris Ash noted that the improvement at skill positions will give them more flexibility with Grant in his final season.

"I think the thing that is different this year is we're going to probably have some more playmakers around Janarion (which is) why we might not have to ask him to do as much," Ash said. "But he's a dynamic player, and we're going to use him as much as we possibly can; and not put him in harm's way by playing him at every snap."

He has worn a green non-contact jersey during most of training camp so far, but both Ash and Williams have denounced concern over his injury, saying that he will be ready for the September 1st season opener against No. 7 Washington.

In fact, Williams says that there will be no holding back Grant, who will want to be on the field as much as possible in his final season of college football.

"He’s full-go. Janarion's a competitor and he wouldn't want you to take him off the field. I think that's what we all like about him," Williams said.

While there are finally players that can take pressure off of Grant, there is no reason why he won't be the focal point of the offense once again. He accounted for 6 touchdowns in 4 different ways last year and fans should expect nothing less.

"Every time he’s on the field he’s a little pit bull," Williams said. "We don’t expect any limitations."


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Griffin Whitmer


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