D.J. Grant: Turning The Tide At Tight End

When looking at strong points of Texas’ offense over the past couple of years, one position that has been noticeably absent is at tight end. Since September of 2008, when Blaine Irby suffered a severe leg injury, the position had never been the same. The Horns could never find a true package or playmaker at the position. However, it appears that the tide is turning, and you can look no further than D.J. Grant.
Last week’s 49-20 victory over the UCLA Bruins might have been all the proof needed for Texas fans to see that the position is back and the players at the position are making some noise. Grant, who has been plagued by injuries up until this year, accounted for six receptions for 77 yards and three of Texas’ touchdowns in the game.“I was really happy about it,” said Texas’ tight end coach Bruce Chambers. “I was just telling somebody today, in our offense, the way that it’s structured, it didn’t have to be D.J. It could have been Blaine [Irby], could have been Barrett [Matthews], it could have been any of those guys. It was just that it was D.J.’s number and it came up and he kept responding. So I was glad to see that.”While Chambers was quick to say it could have been any of his players, he was also quick to note that D.J.’s athleticism was also a prime factor. Of course, it helps that Grant was a four star wide receiver coming out of high school as well.“One of the things I do as I coach those guys,” explained Chambers, “I coach them like they are wide receivers. One of the things that I constantly said to them is the fact that I want them to have that mentality, that they are wide receivers. They’re just bigger guys [with] bigger bodies. I want them to think that they’re a wide receiver. The fact that no one can cover them, the fact that they’re going to catch everything and believe that, and that’s the way I coach them.”He says that the tight ends have been working on doing a better job of getting open. Obviously it has paid off.“There’s a move that we practice all the time,” Chambers said. “We call it a stir step. He stir-stepped the guy, and it’s one of those things where it looks like he’s going vertical and then he breaks it off and then he goes vertical again and breaks it off again. So if a guy is in a trail technique, he has no idea where he’s going and he has to react to it and that last time [Grant] broke it off and he just ran away from the guy.Chambers also believes that Grant is coming around as a blocker, making him the true package at the position.“The thing that D.J. did during his time away is that he got stronger,” Chambers explained. “He got stronger and when you get stronger that brings confidence and you’re very confident in blocking because you are stronger. Of course, the quickness that comes in with it, with quick hands, a guy gets that confidence when he knows he’s strong.”Confidence shouldn’t be a problem for Grant going forward. He should have all of it he needs after turning in arguably the day’s best performance last Saturday.