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Spring Football Player Spotlight: Antwane Grant

To have a lengthy career in pro football is hard enough, but to do it in multiple leagues is even harder. For someone like wide receiver Antwane Grant, though, chasing opportunities has paid off. Grant has made an impact everywhere he’s been, both on and off the football field. At the age of 29, he knows that his career as an athlete may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean he wants to go out quietly. 

Grant’s journey originally started in Delaware, but he wasn’t known for catching passes until he arrived at Nassau Community College in New York. The team was one of the better NJCAA schools for the two years Grant attended (2012-2013), compiling an 18-4 record over that span. He quickly became the program’s all-time leader in every major receiving category, earning him NJCAA All-American honors. 

When it was time to move up a level, Grant chose to be a Western Kentucky Hilltopper, where he lined up alongside future NFL players such as Tyler Higbee and Taywan Taylor. Western Kentucky went 20-7 during the two seasons Grant played (2014-2015), and he would finish his time there with 96 catches for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

Antwane Grant 3 catches a touchdown over a Southern Miss defender Photo by Wesley HittGetty Images

Grant performed well enough in Bowling Green to get some NFL attention, and would land with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Although Grant admitted that this may have not been the best spot in terms of individual role and situation, there was plenty of talent in the receiver room to learn from (and on the team as a whole). He appeared in 3 preseason games, catching 2 passes for 45 yards. Unfortunately, Grant did not make the final roster, and wasn’t brought back on the practice squad.

Looking for another chance to play football, Grant focused his attention on the CFL. He was picked up by the Saskatchewan Roughriders for their 2017 campaign, entering a crowded receiver room highlighted by Duron Carter, Nic Demski, and Naaman Roosevelt. Despite having plenty of men ahead of him on the depth chart, Grant was able to stick around, and appeared in 9 games that season. He caught 5 passes for 107 yards with no touchdowns. 

Antwane Grant 85 during a game against the Ottawa Redblacks Photo Credit Sean BurgesGetty Images

Heading into 2018, the Roughriders no longer had Nic Demski, but added Shaq Evans and Kyran Moore as replacements. This made it even more difficult for Grant to earn his spot, and would only appear in a single preseason game before being cut. It was a frustrating time for Grant, who felt like he was finally making strides as a pro athlete. However, nothing is guaranteed, and he simply looked forward to what could come next.

In 2019, Grant signed with the Atlantic City Blackjacks of the Arena Football League (AFL), where he finally got some serious recognition after years of hard work. In just one season, he would break four team records, winning him the AFL Rookie of the Year award. In 10 games, Grant caught 72 passes for 1,012 yards and 17 touchdowns, all at a point where things could have been over. 

Antwane Grant 5 makes a one handed catch against the Columbus Destroyers Photo Credit Atlantic City BlackjacksTwitter

The arena experience motivated Grant even further, but unfortunately, not all good things last forever. After the 2019 season, the AFL ceased operations, and the COVID-19 pandemic would follow shortly after. Grant was once again out of football, but still felt like he had enough gas in the tank to make a comeback. In 2021, once the world slowly started to recover from the pandemic’s initial impact, Grant signed with the Columbus Lions of the National Arena League (NAL). Not only was he playing football again, but he was doing so in a similar environment to where he found success originally.

The 2021 season saw Grant appear in 7 games for Columbus, where he caught 58 passes for 688 yards and 17 touchdowns. Those 17 trips to the endzone were good enough for third-most in the league, and helped the team make an appearance in the NAL championship. They ended up losing to the Albany Empire, who Grant recently signed with for 2022. 

Grant turns 30 in August, and wants to play for another year or two before officially walking away. It’s a bit late for the USFL to reach out, but the XFL is still a possibility when they return in 2023. Assuming Grant has another great showing with Albany, the XFL should be keeping their eyes on him. Even if arena football is different from the traditional game, Grant has demonstrated that his hands and speed are still as good as new, two of the most important aspects of the receiver position. 

All in all, Grant is an experienced veteran who could be an important presence in the locker room. We wish him the best with the upcoming arena season, and hope to see him in an XFL uniform before he leaves football behind. 

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Football journalist/scout/future coach covering the Houston Roughnecks. Air Raid/Run-and-Shoot enthusiast.

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