|'Bama's Grant tailback No. 3 in showdown with Arkansas|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 13 September 2007 10:49|
The Alabama redshirt freshman is fast but understands he's not likely to catch up with No. 16 Arkansas' tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones any time soon, whatever the early-season statistics say.
``I'm still a freshman, still learning this game really,'' Grant said when asked if he considered himself one of the SEC's top backs. ``If I continue to do what I'm doing, then maybe one day.''
He's off to a good start entering the Crimson Tide's game against the Razorbacks (1-0) and their star backs Saturday night.
Grant leads the league with 307 yards rushing and five touchdowns through two games, averaging 7.3 yards per carry and winning SEC freshman of the week honors twice already. He has instantly breathed life into a running game that struggled most of last season for the Tide (2-0, 1-0) and was unable to churn out first downs late in last year's overtime loss at Arkansas.
It's impressive but still a fledgling career compared to the Heisman candidate McFadden and his playmaking backfield mate. Nobody's more aware of that than the slippery, speedy Grant, who is more similar to Jones in size and style than McFadden.
He's also realistic about who's going to get the most fan attention. Asked about the buzz surrounding him for this game, a smiling Grant said: ``I think they are all talking about McFadden.''
Then again, McFadden's coming-out party was against Alabama as a freshman, when he had an electrifying 70-yard touchdown that supplied a glimpse of just how good he could be. And Grant will get his first chance to showcase his abilities on national television.
But he emphasizes that he isn't trying to outshine or compete with McFadden.
``I respect him, but I'm not going against him,'' he said. ``I'm going against the defense.''
Grant isn't buying into any talk billing this as a rising star versus the superstar. It's easier to tackle him than get him to say something along those lines.
Is he excited? ``We all get juiced up,'' Grant said. ``It's on ESPN, so we've all got to go out there and do good.''
Yeah, but going against two 1,000-yard rushers, including one of the Heisman favorites. That's got to get you fired up, right?
Co. with bulletin board material.
He is starting to draw plenty of attention from opposing defenses, though.
``He's a smaller guy, (but) he's explosive,'' Arkansas linebacker Weston Dacus said. ``He'll run over you if he has to, he has a lot of speed and we're going to have to step our game up this week. Alabama is going to be coming after us.
``Grant is definitely a talented running back and we're not going to overlook that.''
It goes without saying that Alabama's defenders aren't going to overlook McFadden and Jones, who both began the season with huge games against Troy.
If they're not worried about McFadden's running, they're watching out for his passing. He already has thrown for a 42-yard touchdown this season.
And Jones returned a kick 90 yards in the opener.
Tide coach Nick Saban called them ``as good a combination as I can ever remember in college football for what they do for their team, what kind of production they've had and how they're utilized.''
``If they're not first-round draft picks I don't know what is,'' he said. ``Both of them. They're versatile and very dangerous on kickoff returns. It's going to be a real challenge to us.''
Safety Rashad Johnson said it's more than just worrying about tackling them. They'll have to constantly keep tabs on them.
Is McFadden at quarterback in the Razorbacks' WildHog package? Is Jones in the game? Are both of them?
``They are their playmakers and we need to know where they are every time,'' Johnson said.