Richmond (Va.) Hermitage linebacker Curtis Grant may be only a senior in high school, but the 6-foot-3, 222-pounder has been playing football for as long as he can remember. On Tuesday morning at his school, Grant received one of the highest honors he's ever received for his efforts on the gridiron as he received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey. Grant, ranked as one of the nation's top 10 prospects overall, was honored to be amongst the select few to receive such recognition.
"This is the game I wanted to play in," said Grant of the Army Bowl. "I first saw it a couple of years ago when Tajh Boyd had such a big game and I know Morgan Moses from Meadowbrook here in Richmond played in it as well because we play them every year. When I was watching the game I was hoping if I worked hard and just focused on what I needed to do I would maybe have a chance to play in the game as well. It worked out well."
Grant was first invited to the Under Armour Game but decided to wait and see if the Army Bowl invited him because he knows the tradition of the game.
"So many top players have played in the Army Game and the tradition is there," he said. "I wanted to be part of that. I was excited when I got the invite, but I knew I needed to stay focused and concentrate on my senior year. That's still my focus now. This is a nice honor and it's great to share it with my teammates, family and friends but we're 7-0 and I don't want us to lose at all this year so it's back to work now."
Grant has been working hard at football since he was six years old and hasn't stopped since.
"I started in flag football when I was six and then it was JV Pee Wee and then Pee Wee," he said. "Then it was JV Midgets and Midgets and then middle school. I started off on the offensive and defensive lines but moved to linebacker in middle school and loved it. I guess I first got interested in football because of my dad, he used to let me tackle him when I was little. He played defensive end at Virginia Union back in the day when they were good and I guess I wanted to follow in his footsteps."
In addition to his father, also named Curtis Grant, Grant's brother Octavius also played football, playing his ball at Virginia State. Grant gets his size from his dad, who is 6 feet 4, and his mom, who stands 5-11, but he provides the passion all by himself.
"Middle linebacker is my passion, that's what I want to play in college. I just like the sideline-to-sideline part of it where you just read, react and make the play," he said. "I'm not all that into covering slot receivers and all that, maybe when I get to college. But for now, I just want to make tackles. For some reason a lot of people and my friends want me to play safety, but that's crazy. That's way too far away from the action."
Grant isn't sure how many tackles he has this year and doesn't really care. Against Meadowbrook, a team that has beaten Hermitage each of the last two years, Grant was all over the field making roughly 16 tackles and recovering a fumble in a 14-3 win.
"That was probably my best game this season," he said. "The rest of the games the competition hasn't been as good so I've been directing traffic and the ball hasn't gotten to me as often. But as long as we win, that's what I care about."
Grant's Hermitage team has outscored its opponents 202-30 this season and the defense has put up three shutouts and given up double digit points only once.
"We're playing well but the last few games haven't been that close," he said. "But come playoff time we'll be ready."
Grant isn't ready yet to deal with recruiting however as it has been far from his thoughts.
"I have just been focused on the season," he said. "I'm trying to get my list down to four schools and take visits to those four after the season, but I'm not really focused on it right now. I'd like to take all five visits if I can and the fifth would be to Oregon if they wanted me as a tight end. Have you seen that offense? It's insane."
While Grant jokes about playing tight end in college for the Ducks, his future is clearly on defense and a handful of teams have a good shot at landing him.
"I'd say I'm interested in visiting Florida, Ohio State and North Carolina for sure," he said. "After that it's Michigan, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU and maybe even Virginia. Originally I wanted to get out of state but I like Mike London a lot at Virginia. I've told them I'm not really interested but that hasn't stopped them from recruiting me and they keep creeping back into my thoughts. I'll figure everything out after the season but I know I won't be ready to decide until January or Signing Day because I'll be taking my visits so late."
In the meantime, after a short break receiving his U.S. Army jersey, its back to the grind for Grant who likes to let his play to the talking.
"I feel there's no need to broadcast yourself or draw attention to yourself off the field or on it," he said. "Just work hard, play hard and do your job and people will notice. It has worked for me so far."