September 1, 2007

Grant debuts to rave reviews

One play.

That's all it took for Terry Grant to introduce himself personally to the Alabama fans sitting behind the South end zone Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama's new starter at running back took a pitch to the right on Alabama's first play from scrimmage, cut back left, and bolted 48 yards for a touchdown.

"It's a toss sweep and I took it to the outside, then just cut it back," Grant said.

And with that, the freshman from Lumberton, Miss., sparked an 18-carry, 134-yard performance in his first career start. The 190-pounder grabbed the starting position at running back last spring, held it firmly throughout Fall camp, and left no doubt Saturday why the smallest back on the roster is also the most dangerous.

"He's a great space player," said coach Nick Saban. "When he gets into the secondary and you get him the ball in space he's a very dangerous player in terms of being able to make people miss."

Grant finished the game with three touchdowns on runs of 48, 1 and 21 yards, then took to the sideline for most of the second half while reserves Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch took over.

"I've been telling people what he can do," said receiver DJ Hall. "Now everyone has seen it for themselves."

Grant ran just twice for 22 yards last year before receiving a medical redshirt with a shoulder injury. His healthy return this season gives Alabama speed at the position it has not seen in several years, but Saban recognizes the importance of limiting physical punishment for a back of Grant's size.

"Terry's the kind of guy that we want to have a little bit of a tandem type of situation," said Saban. "That would be beneficial to him."

Jimmy Johns' bullish style at 233 pounds provides just such a complement, and Saban said he was also pleased with the play of the other backs.

The long-distance threat in this offense, however, comes in the smaller package.

"I never doubt myself," Grant said.

In time, perhaps nobody will.

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