WOODSTOCK — Football players like Trey Grant are a rare get for a school of Central’s size, and not just because of his stature.
Sure, Grant’s size is valuable for a Falcon team that has long prided itself on a power-running game under head coach Mike Yew. According to Grant, he heads into the 2021 condensed spring season at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, and he figures to help pave the way for Central’s offense in his second year as a starting offensive lineman.
But as Yew pointed out last week, Grant is more than just a big body.
“More than just being a good football player, Trey’s an exceptional student,” Yew said. “I don’t know the course load he’s taking but I know he’s taken a boatload of college classes already. He’s above a 4.0 (GPA) kid, ‘yes sir, no sir.’ Again, you hear this all the time with certain kids, but if every team had three or four of them they’d be blessed. They’d be fortunate. He’s a super kid, well-mannered, all-around just a very good human being.”
Grant’s also talented enough on the gridiron that he carved out a starting role for himself as a junior in 2019 despite having sat out his sophomore season because of his heavy course load in the classroom, and despite having only just started really getting into football as a freshman in 2017.
Two seasons of high school football later and Grant is a presence up front that the Falcons figure to lean on in 2021.
“He’s a strong kid. I mean he deadlifts 550 pounds, so that helps,” Yew said of what makes Grant successful on the offensive line, where Grant said he’ll primarily play offensive tackle this spring. “He’s very strong. He’s athletic, and he’s (6-3, 275). In 2A and 3A football, you don’t get a lot of those kids that walk in your door. But it’s not just that he’s a big body. We’ve got plenty of kids that are big bodies. He moves well, he runs well, he’s a strong kid and he does what you ask him to do. He’s very coachable.”
Grant’s willingness to learn was a big part of his junior season in the fall of 2019. He recalled being one of three juniors starting for the first time on Central’s offensive line last season and reaping the benefits of playing alongside then-seniors Dylan Mullins and Camden Zirk, whose playing experience rubbed off on their younger linemates.
“What I was trying to do throughout the (2019) season was I was just learning my role, trying to get better and better throughout the season, and I think I accomplished that,” Grant said. “By the last three games of last season, my confidence was way up and everybody else’s confidence around us was all the way up.”
The playing time Grant received last season should be key for the Falcons. Yew said Central’s success will depend largely on the offensive line’s ability to execute, and Grant is one of three linemen who started at least a handful of games in 2019.
“It was necessary because if I had started this season I’d be learning the position basically from scratch,” Grant said of earning a starting role as a junior. “But I can pull from experience now, so I’m essentially where I was at the end of last year, which is really helpful because I can progress now to even better than what I was last year.”
Grant also figures to be a more versatile weapon for the Falcons this spring. Though he played little on the defensive side of the ball as a junior, Grant will be a two-way player in his final high school season.
“It’s gonna test the endurance a little bit but I’ve just always loved playing D-line,” Grant said. “I always loved watching defensive linemen, even in the pros and stuff. I just love seeing them because what they can do is just so incredible.”
Yew said many of the attributes that make Grant successful on the offensive line apply to the defensive side, where Yew envisions the senior being a strong-side, stand-up defensive end.
“He plays with his hands very well and he’s got good balance, so that’s the kind of thing you’ve got to have,” Yew said. “Your defensive end is kind of a glorified linebacker in a lot of defenses, and in ours, if they’re able to stand up and get the job done, we let them. A lot of times we don’t necessarily have that luxury, so we have to put a hand in the dirt and let them play down and dirty inside.”
Though the shortened spring season could be Grant’s last on a football field, he said playing in college is something he’s thought about and wouldn’t rule out playing at the next level if the right situation presented itself. His coach believes he has what it takes to make that happen.
“I know that his academics will come first, so he’s gonna go somewhere to solidify his future and what he wants to do,” Yew said. “But if the situation arises that he can go somewhere where academics are first and they have football, I think it’s a good combination that you could see him doing both.”