Each year seems to bring a new wave of talented freshman running backs to the practice fields at Statesboro High. This season is no different, but the new face with the biggest impact could come from an experienced junior transferring in from just down the road.
Last season, Zach Grant racked up 1,146 rushing yards and scored 20 touchdowns as Claxton’s biggest offensive threat. Now a resident of Statesboro, he hopes to keep up the good work.
“Playing at this level is going to be a challenge,” Grant said of competing against a Class AAAA schedule – Claxton is a Class A school. “The coaches had me working hard in the weight room all summer to get bigger and stronger. Now I want to go out and compete.”
Normally, the 5-foot-7 Grant would be an undersized back in the Devils’ power wishbone offense. But Statesboro has more speed than size in its backfield this season and a game plan of spreading the field a bit more should suit Grant’s skills perfectly.
Of course, for a group of high school kids, having the talent to win is only a small piece of the puzzle. With over 100 players on the varsity and junior varsity rosters, Statesboro coaches always have the task of making sure everyone is able to get along and function as a single unit.
At some schools, that might mean trouble for an outsider coming in midway through his career. According to Grant, the transition was a smooth one and he is already just another one of the guys before the regular season even begins.
“I only knew a couple of (Statesboro’s players) before I got here,” Grant said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting to just come in and start. I work hard in practice every day. All of the other running backs do the same. I think we all feel like family.”
Statesboro fans wanting to see what Grant could bring to the table had to wait just one snap to find out.
During the Devils’ scrimmage against Southeast Bulloch last Friday, Statesboro’s first offensive play was an option out to the right. Quarterback Colin Chance hit Grant with a perfect pitch and Grant had little trouble breezing around a defender and racing 58 yards downfield. That run was just one of a few displays of great speed and athleticism shown by Grant on the night.
He may be the new guy in town, but there’s no doubt that Zach Grant will be a familiar name in Statesboro this fall.
“I know that at Statesboro, there’s a lot to live up to,” Grant said. “That’s OK. We expect a lot of ourselves and we’re going to prove it each game.”
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.