MOBILE, Ala. — The first thing you realize when talking with former Tulane receiver Ryan Grant is that you have to stand right next to him to hear what he’s saying.
Take a look at his career statistics while at Tulane and then watch him ply his trade, however, and you realize a second thing – you can’t let the lack of decibels fool you.
Grant is good. Very good. And he hopes to be able translate what he did at Tulane into a career in the NFL.
“It’s one of my dreams,” Grant said. “I would love to be drafted. No matter where I go, no matter team I go to, I’m going to go there and work hard and try to make the 53 roster.”
According to his position coach at the Uptown New Orleans school, the 6-foot, 197-pound receiver is ready for the next level.
“He’s physically ready I believe,” said Keith Williams, the receivers coach at Tulane. “He’s mentally ready based on the offense and the NFL concepts we teach and run there. I think he’s as ready as anybody else coming out of college.”
His production would seem to back that up. After missing most of 2011 with a sports hernia, Grant came back in 2012 and 2013 to become the Green Wave’s overwhelming leader at receiver.
As a junior, he caught 76 passes for 1,149 yards and six touchdowns. That was 30 more catches, 629 more yards and one more touchdown than the next closest on the team.
A year later, when he became the favorite target of Tulane quarterbacks, he still caught 70 passes for 926 yards and nine touchdowns prior to the bowl game. That was 46 more catches, 570 more yards and four more touchdowns than the next best on the team.
And in his final collegiate game, Tulane’s heartbreaking loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, he was as tough to cover as ever, finishing with seven catches for 113 yards.
He caught a pass in 33 straight games and had at least two catches in 18 straight. When all was said and done, Grant finished with 2,769 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.
Now he hopes he’s opening the door for future professional prospects out of Tulane. He’s participating this week in the Senior Bowl, the annual collegiate all-star game showcasing the top senior players in the nation.
He’s the first Green Wave player to go since Jeremy Williams in 2010 and only the fourth since 2006.
With Curtis Johnson bringing the Green Wave to a bowl game in just his second year and recruiting classes getting better, that may be changing.
“This year has meant a lot because we had to go out there and turn a program around,” Grant said. “C.J.’s second year, we had a lot of good, young players out there. I just like how C.J. and his assistants recruit good young players to come in there and play immediately.”
Grant later added, “Me being here means a lot, but it definitely put Tulane on the map.”
First and foremost for Grant, though, is getting into the NFL now and opening doors later.
The Senior Bowl can be an overwhelming event, with hundreds from the NFL, including scouts, head coaches, assistant coaches and general managers in attendance to dissect every little thing about the players.
Johnson, Grant said, gave him a little advice before heading over to Mobile, Ala., for the week.
“He just told me to come out here and do what I do,” Grant said. “Don’t get frustrated. Don’t be fooled by the atmosphere out here. Just come out here and play football.”