Jakeem Grant is a short man and a tiny football player at 5-foot-6 and 161 pounds. But the Dolphins rookie sixth-round draft pick roars confidence and spews quotes like a giant.
The Dolphins made many of their rookies available to the media at the start of their rookie minicamp and Grant simply stole the show. He is the most interesting guy in this draft class.
Grant's size is an obvious issue. He doesn't run away from it. He runs toward what he sees as a dividend.
"I've definitely heard every joke in the book," Grant said. "I use that as fuel to my fire. You can say I'm short, I'm this, I'm that. But when it all comes down to it, you can't stop me. At the end of the day you can say I need to grow a little more, but dude, I stopped growing in middle school. This is all you're going to get right here. At the end of the day, if it's man to man, I'm going to win the battle."
The narrative is Grant is perhaps (big perhaps) going to be a return specialist in the NFL. Perhaps. Why perhaps?
The size issue, of course:
"That didn't knock me down one bit," Grant said. "That just put a bigger chip on my shoulder. People are saying, 'His career is not going to last too long in the NFL because of his size.' I say, you can't hit what you can't catch...
"I'm here on the big stage and no one believes in me until I put out the playmaking ability. Once I do that, all the critics will be like, 'Ok, now Jakeem is making plays.' I'm going to show the world that size doesn't matter. If you have the heart and the passion to play the game, that's all there is to it."
Whatever Grant lacks in size, he more than makes up in apparent confidence.
- "I personally, I would say everything I did in college was special. Not just in the return game or as a receiver. I have to be great at all those things."
- "I love doing the impossible."
- He says he ran a 10.32 in the 100 meters in high school. The world record is 9.58 for men and 10.49 for women. And Grant wanted to use that speed to break Chris Johnson's 4.24 record at the NFL Combine. Unfortunately, Grant wasn't invited to the Combine. "I wanted to break Chris Johnson's record because he's one of my favorite players," Grant said. "And that 4.24, I told my mom, I'm going to break that record. And letting my mom down, I felt like I let her down because I didn't get invited. I wanted to break that record as bad as I want to be a good football player.
Grant doesn't see himself as a specialist. He says his college team ran plays for him and because Dolphins coach Adam Gase is "an offensive genius" he thinks the Dolphins might draw up some plays for him as his college coach did.
"I do want to play offense," Grant said. "There's a lot of competition there and I'm looking forward to it."
Fine, but if he's on offense occasionally, the thinking is Mighty Ant Grant must be a slot receiver, correct?
"What if you get a 6-3 corner and he wants to put his size on you," Grant explained. "You don't have size. So go with your strengths. Use quickness and technique. Give the illusion you're going somewhere you're not. That's how I feel. Just because I don't have size doesn't mean a 6-3 is just going to come down and jam me up. I'm going to use my strengths to maneuver around him."
"I want to be the best person on the field, it doesn't matter about running back or quarterback, Whatever position I'm at, I want to be the best man on the field. When you look on the field, offense and defense, I want people to say Jakeem Grant, that's the best person on the field."
Grant was at Texas Tech when former Texas Tech linebacker Zach Thomas (heard of him?) came to the school and spoke to the team. The undersized former Texas Tech receiver now with the Dolphins thinks he can pattern himself after the undersized former Texas Tech linebacker who played for the Dolphins.
"One of our Hall of Famers at Texas Tech was Zach Thomas," Grant said. "And knowing he played here, that motivates me to be a Hall of Famer, too. Being here, is a dream come true. Just walking in here and meeting the people, this is a great facility. You can't be at a better place than being right here in Miami."
"I want to be up there with him, recognized on the same level as him, because he is a Texas Tech player and so am I. It's like a dream come true."
And when he gets established, Grant hopes he can be an inspiration to smallish players as others have been to him.
"I feel like there's a lot of guys looking up to me, just like I looked up to Darren Sproles," Grant said.
"A lot of guys paved the way for me and I want to pave the way for them. I want to be great for them, it's not just for me. If I pave the way for them, it's because one day I will be looked at as a receiver, not just that I'm short. We won't be looked at as gadget guys. We'll be looked at as regular receivers."
[Come back later for more rookie minicamp posts.]