football

Key Red Raiders: Jakeem Grant

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When you talk about Red Raiders who are going to need big seasons,
Jakeem Grant ought to be in that first breath.
Grant, paired with tight end Jace Amaro, is expected to be a major
factor in an inside receiver duo that should present problems to Big 12
defensive backfields.
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While small in stature, the 5-foot-6, 163-pound Mesquite Horn product has been
poised for big things since arriving on campus in 2011. He probably could have
played on Texas Tech's kick return unit immediately, but emerged as an important
player down the backstretch of the team's 2012 campaign as a redshirt freshman.
Grant can out-maneuver lesser opponents' defenses and his speed makes him a
pairing nightmare for defenses. More importantly, the undersized receiver makes
it tough to double team Amaro because Grant could be gone in one move in
man-to-man coverage.
"It's totally different dynamics with us," Amaro said. "I'm 6-foot-6 and pretty
fast, but Jakeem is 5-foot-6 and really fast. He's one of the fastest guys in
the Big 12. When we're both running across the middle it's just really hard for
one safety to guard both of us. That's where we've really been able to do a lot
of damage against our own defense (in spring football)."
More than that, Grant is two-for-two in games where he has been a starter on
kickoff return. He torched Baylor on a 97-yard return for a touchdown in the
final regular season game, and did it again in the bowl game against Minnesota.
If Grant shines on kickoff early on as a sophomore, look for teams to
potentially kick short which would then set Tech up with decent field position
by default.
"I tell you, he's a legend," defensive end Kerry Hyder said. "He's
going to make some big plays for us in the fall. I expect him to run at least
five kicks back the way he's playing right now."
Back on the offensive side of things, Grant's presence can't be overstated. If
the defense selects to defend the inside game the offense can go outside to find
a stable of strong receivers. If defenses emphasize defending the outside game,
it opens up the inside passing game for nickel and dime plays. If defenses go
man-to-man with their coverage, it just comes down to making plays and it could
be a long day for them.
There's no perfect way to defend an offense that features such diversity in the
passing game.
Look for Grant to greatly improve on his total from last season -- 287 yards and
three touchdowns -- now that he's a full-time offensive starter.
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sacks against Iowa State in 2012.
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