He’ll finally get that chance Saturday, when Georgia plays at Arkansas, Grant’s new home. The true freshman will start for the Razorbacks at cornerback in place of the injured Michael Coe.
“I’m trying to go into the game looking at it as any other game, but, I mean, I can’t help but get a little excited playing against my home team,” Michael Grant said this week. “I’m just real excited because I think I’m going to get to play a little bit more this weekend.”
Grant, an All-America high school football player and track athlete at Stephenson High School, could have been playing a lot for the Bulldogs this year. He signed with Georgia in February, but a disciplinary incident in his past caused a UGA committee to strip him of his scholarship four months later.
“Once I knew we weren’t going to be able to get have him, my No. 1 priority was to get him where he wanted to be and Arkansas is the choice he made,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I just asked him and his mother to think very strongly about where he wanted to go, and I would try my best to help pave the way before it became a media spectacle. I felt he deserved the opportunity to play somewhere he was very comfortable and in this league.”
The Razorbacks, a national power in track, had a football scholarship available, and Houston Nutt was more than happy to take Richt’s phone call.
“I asked a lot of questions of Mark,” Nutt said. “Mark’s very honest. He said (Grant) was a character person, made a mistake early in high school. I had to check it out thoroughly also. It wasn’t like we’re just taking anyone. We had to do our homework, and it started with Coach Richt, his word. What he says is highly credible.”
“After we had (Grant) and his mother for 48 hours, there was no question in my mind that this person is an excellent person who’s going to get a degree, and I think he’s going to be a good citizen who’s going to do some good things.”
Grant, who wears the No. 8 worn by former Razorback and Georgia native Ahmad Carroll, has 14 tackles this year. He has also returned one kickoff for 11 yards. He declined this week to discuss the details of his departure from Georgia.
“I can’t really go in-depth as to why,” he said. “(Richt) talked to my mom about all that, so I didn’t get all that information, but I immediately started thinking about what to do, what schools I would be able to go to. Arkansas immediately came to my mind.”
The main thing that drew Grant to Georgia originally was its proximity to his Stone Mountain home, he said, but his family tries to make it to every game and his sister recently enrolled in graduate school at Arkansas.
Grant remains in contact with several Georgia players. He is closest to freshman Josh Johnson, a high school teammate.
“They already started a little bit of trash talking,” Grant said. “Josh Johnson, he talks the most trash of anybody I know.”
Despite his friendship with several players and appreciation for Richt’s handling of the matter, Grant wants to show the Bulldogs what they missed.
“If we win, I’ll be happy with that,” he said. “Of course, I want to do good, but just as long as we win, I’ll be happy.”
5-foot-11, 185 pounds
High school: Stephenson
High school honors: Named All-America by several recruiting services as a defensive back … a USA Today All-USA boys track and field team member … state champion in 10-0 and 200-meter sprints.
College honors: Will make first collegiate start Saturday against Georgia … Has made 14 tackles for Razorbacks … Has made 11 solo tackles.
Quotable: “It’s a good experience that you get to play against some of the best receivers and quarterbacks in the nation. I thought it was going to be a little harder than it really was.” -- Grant