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August 13, 2008Every year, there's a handful of recruits who fly under the radar and are overlooked during spring evaluations only to emerge during summer camps.
Last year, Ole Miss received a late fall verbal commitment from Cleveland, Miss. defensive back Derrick Herman, which left recruiting experts scurrying to find out more about the prospect. When the dust settled, Herman and turned heads at the Mississippi - Alabama All-Star game last December and emerged with a three-star rating.
Ironically, another sleeper this year is from Cleveland, 6-foot-3, 210 pound Terrell Grant. With 4.4 speed and the size coveted by college coaches to provide a big target at wide receiver, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have already offered and interest from more recruiters could be on the horizon for Grant.
"I'm only getting a lot of interest from Ole Miss and Mississippi State," Grant said on Tuesday evening. "I think those are only the two schools that know about me."
Even without interest from other schools, the battle for Grant is already a heated one.
Grant camped at Mississippi State earlier in the summer and came away with an offer to grayshirt, which would require him to sit out the 2009 season and delay fulltime enrollment until January 2010. He then camped at Ole Miss and came away with an offer. Not to be outdone, Mississippi State upped their offer from the grayshirt opportunity to an offer that would permit him to play next fall.
While Ole Miss had the upper hand when Grant had only the grayshirt offer from State, the change of the State offer now has Grant undecided and in a situation where he wants to learn more about both schools before making a decision.
"I'm not going to rush myself into a decision," Grant said. "I don't want to make a mistake; to pick a school and then find out that I picked the wrong one. I'm still just not ready to make a decision anytime soon. I'm still talking with both schools and both of them are recruiting me really hard. I'd just say that I'm neutral right now and that both schools are even. I might make a decision by midseason or it could be the end of the season"
A factor that makes Grant's decision difficult is that he's had positive experiences with both schools and both staffs.
"I had a lot of fun - really had fun - at the Ole Miss camp," Grant said. "Coach (Ron) Dickerson, the receivers coach, took me through drills and showed me cuts and releases and stuff that will really help me out this season. He's really down to earth and that's what I'm looking for in a coach, someone that you can talk to personally, someone that if you are having a day that is not going too good, that you can go in and talk with. He's also a comedian, really funny."
"I also liked coach (Houston) Nutt," Grant continued. "He told me that I have a great attitude and I like a coach who tells me that. I like it when coaches notice that about me. I'm a team player and not one who goes in for a lot of publicity, my game speaks for itself."
Grant said he also was impressed with the Rebels' offensive coordinator, Kent Austin, who took time to tell him about the offense and how they intend to spread it out and throw the ball.
Similarly, Grant had a good experience earlier at the Mississippi State camp.
"I can't remember when I went, I think in June or early July," Grant said. "I met with coach (Pat) Washington and he's also down to earth like coach Dickerson. He said they'll throw the ball this year and have a better passing game than they've had in previous years. I also like coach (Sylvester) Croom. He wants you to be a man when you leave Mississippi State, and some coaches don't do that. That let you skip classes and go out and party. He's going to establish discipline and I want to go to a school where I can get my degree."
For Grant, he said his final decision will come down to three factors: 1) Having a great head coach, one who will improve his team every year and have a chance to take it to the top, 2) The team he selects must have a great wide receivers coach who will be available to assist and support him, and 3) location.
"I want to be at a location where my family can see me play," Grant said. "I get homesick real easy. I got homesick while I was just away for camp. I was missing home already. I was missing my mama's cooking and I was missing my little sister and my little brother."
One advantage Ole Miss could have is the presence of Herman, who is good friends with his former Cleveland teammate.
"Derrick, we're very, very, very close, he's like a big brother," Grant said. "If I go to Ole Miss, we can help each other out. I can tell him the tendency of wide receivers and he can do the same for me with defensive backs. He can help me out a lot."
Another advantage to Ole Miss not lost on Grant is that Ole Miss was the first team to offer a legitimate full scholarship.
"In a way, it kind of gives Ole Miss the advantage," Grant said. "Obviously Ole Miss saw something in me. The thought crossed my mind that maybe the only reason Mississippi State changed their offer was because Ole Miss offered. But I've thought about that. There's a business side to football and they only have 25 scholarships and they have like 21 (editor's note: actually 18) commitments. I'm not going to say that Ole Miss has the upper hand because of that. They're even right now."
While Ole Miss offers Herman to help get adjusted to college football life, Grant says that if he goes to State, he looks forward to developing a relationship with State commitment Tyler Russell, who he feels is the quarterback of the future for the Bulldogs.
One thing that doesn't scare Grant off is the presence of three committed Bulldog wide receivers and three more athletes who could play the position that State is expected to sign next February.
"It really doesn't concern me a lot," Grant said. "There's some great players there, but I'm not scared of competition. It doesn't phase me."
Meanwhile, Grant says he plans to be at Ole Miss' home opener against Memphis and "will not miss the Egg Bowl" in Oxford in late November.
Grant reports a 2.5 GPA and has an 18 on his ACT.
"I'm aiming for a 3.0 GPA this year and want to leave with a bang - both on field and in the classroom."