Last Saturday Michigan fans got their first glimpse of record-setting high
school tailback Kevin Grady. The anticipation had been building for the East
Grand Rapids native since he experienced great success in bowl practices after
enrolling a semester early back in December. The transition has called for a
lot of hard work, but the reserved youngster has enjoyed the process. "It's
a huge step coming from high school to college obviously," Grady said after
Saturday’s open practice at Michigan Stadium. "I can't even explain
how great it is to be out here. Ever since I was a little kid I just wanted
to come out here and be a part of the Michigan tradition, so I'm just happy
to be able to come in here and contribute".
The question on the minds of most Michigan fans is how much Grady will contribute
in his freshman year. The young man himself, though, was rather humble about
the issue. "I'm trying to come out here and compete for some playing time,"
he said. "But I obviously have a lot work to do before the fall comes."
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was a bit more willing to offer praise. "He had
an excellent spring," Carr said of Grady. "I think he'll play a very
important role on our team."
When the issue of playing time comes up, it sometimes create tension between
the players at a position. That, however, is not the case with Grady and his
fellow backfield mates. "We're a real tight knit group," Grady said
of his relationship with Max Martin, Jerome Jackson and returning starter Mike Hart. "Everybody is friends and we hang out all the time. We try to stay
tight knit because going down the road we know that it's going to take maybe
more than one back to carry the load."
Anyone that has witnessed this group go through a practice can also attest
to the fact that they have a special bond. There is plenty of praise, laughter,
and advice being dished amongst them. Despite the fact all of them have different
running styles and ability, they all have one thing in common, and that's the
team. In that sense, they complement each other. That said, there is still an
intense competition going on.
Grady's early enrollment into Michigan has certainly put him in better position
to compete. He has been able to practice, learn the offense, and to get into
the flow of the program. That will help him be as mentally prepared as he already
is physically when the fall rolls around. He looked sharp the two times we have
been able to see him practice (despite being slowed by an elbow injury this
past Saturday). He looks to have trimmed down a bit from his days of running
the ball at East Grand Rapids. However, he continues to display the wrecking
ball type power that makes him special.
Given the injuries at fullback and the stockpile of talent at running back,
the offense could have both of its top backs in the same set. That is certainly
something Coach Carr has given though to. "We'll have to see how that develops,"
Carr said. "Normally if you get two guys that can really catch the football
and two guys that both can block, then that becomes a great set. I think we've
got some guys who can do that."