When the Pittsburgh Steelers selected cornerback Doran Grant in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, he became the fourth Ohio State Buckeye to be taken by the team over the course of the past five drafts—three of them on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward was first in the chain after being selected in the first round in 2011. Tackle Mike Adams followed the next year. After a layoff in 2013, the Steelers went back to Ohio State in the first round with inside linebacker Ryan Shazier.
12th-year veteran Will Allen, another Ohio State alumnus, has been extremely helpful in Grant adapting to life as a professional football player, as he told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Cornered on Tuesday during the Rookie Symposium, Grant talked about his early experiences with the Steelers and how Allen came up to him from the beginning and offered him any assistance that he might need.
“You hear a lot of stuff about the vets. You’re going to take their job, and I understand it’s a business”, he told Ulrich. “But at the same time, they’re willing to help you, and they give you good advice to be successful in the NFL. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that, especially as a young guy”.
No doubt Allen’s continued presence on this team is predicated on his ability to be a leader in the locker room, as the oldest member of the secondary, and one of the oldest players remaining on the entire team. But the Ohio State connection is hard to deny.
Grant, who dubbed himself “very versatile” during his post-selection conference call with the local media, also spoke about his experience during spring drills, telling Ulrich that he spent his time exclusively working on the outside thus far, having gotten no work in the slot.
That would appear to make sense, given that the top slot cornerback seems slated to be William Gay, one of the two starting cornerbacks in the base defense, with rookie Senquez Golson and perhaps Kevin Fogg coming in after him.
No matter where he lines up, Grant is looking forward to getting to the first day of training camp practices a little over a month from now, when he can finally put on the pads and start hitting.
“I hang my hat on being physical as much as possible, so I’m going to get the chance. It’s going to be a very exciting day just to see where I’m at, see where I stand”, he said about getting that first opportunity to play football again. “I’m not even going to lie, I’m looking forward to it”.
While Grant grew up a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers were a team that he respected as a team that he described as tough and aggressive to the ball. It didn’t hurt, he added, that they featured fellow Akron native James Harrison, who at 37 remains a key part of the defense, of which he is now expected to be a part of the future.