The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

September 5, 2013

Auburn tailback Grant finally cultivates a role

— AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Corey Grant has done the unthinkable in one of college football's most bitter rivalries — twice.

He left Auburn's backyard to play for Alabama, then bolted the Crimson Tide to walk on with the Tigers. The tailback's second move finally paid off after three years on the sidelines at one school or the other when he rushed for 146 yards in the Tigers' opener with Washington State.

"At times, it got rough," Grant said. "I just kept pushing and kept pushing knowing that my time would come. It's finally here."

In the meantime, the two-time state 100-meter champion from neighboring Opelika put on 30 pounds to beef up for Southeastern Conference defenses.

Grant finally appears to have cultivated a role now that Gus Malzahn returned with his no-huddle offense and plenty of opportunities on sweeps and other runs for a speedy back. He's hoping for a nice encore Saturday night against Arkansas State.

The 5-foot-11, 201-pounder redshirted in 2010 at Alabama, which was loaded with Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy in the backfield. Grant walked on at Auburn the next year seeking playing time and a better fit, then sat out the following season under NCAA transfer rules.

Last season in a pro-style offense, he only got nine carries.

Grant got the same number in his first game, splitting time with Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne, who got far more attention in the preseason. He finally showed he could play in the SEC.

"I think he was grateful for the opportunity," Opelika High School coach Brian Blackmon said. "I think it was kind of a proving thing, not just to everybody else but probably more so to himself that, I do have what it takes to be an SEC football player. I think that was a great moment for Corey."

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