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Merrillville’s Kenneth Grant


temptation

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Kenneth Grant earned a game ball after Michigan football defeated East Carolina last Saturday, and for good reason.

The sophomore defensive tackle was only credited with a lone quarterback hurry against the Pirates, but he impacted the game throughout the afternoon. The highlight came midway through the first quarter, when a stunt got him free to the QB, forcing an early throw and creating Mike Sainristil’s interception.

Later in the half, a would-be hurry and big hit were negated by a holding penalty.

While the hard stats don’t pop off the page, Grant’s PFF grade — 85.5 in 20 snaps — and the 11 ECU rushes stopped for two yards or fewer better reflect his impact. And watching from afar as he served a suspension, Jim Harbaugh took notice:

“KG to me was the guy,” Harbaugh said on In the Trenches with Jon Jansen. “Kenneth Grant, his ascension as a football player. I mean, he was a gift from the football gods when he showed up. But he just keeps getting better and better.

Some of the moves, the athleticism he showed, all the things we see every single day. Got that pressure that really caused that interception to be thrown just a little bit short. A little bit, right there where Mike could make a great play. Had another really good pressure and hurry and hit on the quarterback. They were throwing the ball quick, but KG was getting there. His presence was felt.”

The former four-star prospect — once described as a “gift from the football gods” by Harbaugh — appeared in all 14 games in 2022. He’s poised to step into a bigger role on the interior for the Wolverines following Mazi Smith’s departure to the NFL. Grant forms part of the rotation with Kris Jenkins, Mason Graham, Rayshaun Benny and Cam Goode.

“I think Kenneth Grant’s gonna be a name everyone’s gonna know about. He’s a monster in the middle and has a chance to be a really, really dominant type of player here,” defensive coordinator Jesse Mintersaid this spring.

Grant met with the media late last month to discuss his expectations for his sophomore season. Here’s what he said:

On his offseason weight loss of 20 pounds:

Coach Herb did a really good job. I really focused with him and Abigail on nutrition to really get down and be compact and put more muscle on. I'm definitely happy with that. I move a lot better.

Really just working out heavy. I started creatine — that really helped. It gave me a lot of energy.

On how he’s changed as a player in Year 2 after the weight loss:

It changed me a lot. I could be on the field a lot more. I have a lot more stamina. Our conditioning test, that really helped. I passed it with ease, to be honest.

What you should expect is me to be on the field more, not just on run downs. I can contribute on the pass, too, and go for long drives.

On the players he’s learned from the most at Michigan:

Really our whole D-line. We be together in the meeting room just to help each other out. It's never like, who’s a leader? We're all leaders in that room, so we help each other out.

On players he tries to imitate:

Vita Vea. I really look at his film a lot. He's a very style guy. He's a pass rusher, but he can dominate the run pretty well. So I try to model my game off of that.

… I describe my game just like him. I showed that this fall camp. That’s what I base my game off of.

On how he and Mason Graham teach each other:

It’s an everyday battle. Every time we go onto the field, after a play, we look at the play. He tells me things that I could do better, and I tell him things that he could do better. It's just getting to know each other — I wouldn't say getting to know each other, but knowing each other's tendencies and trying to fix them.

… He has a really good pass rush game. He’s very stout and strong. You wouldn’t think he’s strong, but he’s really strong.

Edited by temptation
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3 minutes ago, Coach Nowlin said:

He was an absolute DOG for the Pirates in HS 

 

Agreed. Coach Prime would put a D on his jersey. At this rate it appears the NFL is in his future. I'm looking forward to watching him. Sounds like a bigger version of East Chicago's Kawaan Short who ended up having a pretty good NFL career.

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