The recent announcement of Janarion Grant’s return has sparked excitement within the Rutgers Football community, rightfully so as he is arguably the most dynamic offensive player on the roster. His laundry list of accolades and awards are well documented:
Grant is currently tied for the NCAA all-time record for the most combined kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in a career with eight.
He is fourth all-time for all-purpose yards in Rutgers history and will certainly move up that list next season. He already secured the record for most kickoff return yards in program history in 2015. His 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Michigan in 2015 was the longest return by an opposing player in the history of the Big House.
Wait please repeat that, he currently holds the record for the longest return by an opposing player in the history of the Big House? Yep, see for yourself!
When Grant touches the football he has a tendancy to make big plays, just watch our Top Ten Plays of 2016 which features a heavy dose of Janarion Grant, despite only playing in four games.
In our Rutgers Football Statistical Breakdown of 2016 article we discussed the importance of average starting field position and how it directly translates into wins and losses. Special teams is an integral part in winning the field position battle and the loss of Grant directly impacted that battle:
Teams who won the field position battle won 72% of their games. Starting average field position is extremely important and the concept is rather simple; starting drives closer to the opponents end zone requires less yards to score points.
In 2016 the Scarlet Knights on average lost the starting average field position battle by -8.16 yards, compared to -3.39 yards in 2015. The disparity was greater for conference games in both 2015 (-9.73 yards) and 2016 (-10.84 yards). This disparity puts added pressure on not only the offensive, but the defense as well who has to defend a shorter field compared to the opposing defense.
Comparing average kickoff returns and punt returns with Grant versus without, and there is no arguing just how important he is to the success of the team. Furthermore, he will be bringing back with him priceless knowledge and leadership that will help develop Janarion Grant 2.0 when he graduates:
In 2015 the Scarlet Knights averaged 23.17 yards per kickoff return, two of which were returned for touchdowns. With the loss of return man Janarion Grant to injury, 2016 kickoff return numbers decreased significantly averaging only 16.74 yards per kickoff, none of which were returned for touchdowns. Similarly, average yards per punt return fell from 8.33 yards to 3.79 yards. There were no punt returns for touchdowns in conference play in 2016, compared to one touchdown return in 2015.
As mentioned previously, Grant is currently tied for the NCAA all-time record for the most combined kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in a career with eight. Here are the other return specialists who share the record with Grant, you will probably recognize a few.
Tedd Ginn Jr. from Ohio State: Drafted ninth overall in the 2007 draft by the Miami Dolphins and currently playing for the Carolina Panthers.
Wes Welker: Signed as undrafted free agent in 2004 by the San Diego Chargers. He has had a very successful career in the NFL and is currently a free agent.
Phillip Livas from Louisiana Tech: Signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2011.
Adoree Jackson from USC: Jackson has announced he will be entering the NFL Draft this year.
Forever A Trojan. Thank You and Love you pic.twitter.com/GYwgvfxv8l— Adoree' Jackson (@AdoreeKnows) January 16, 2017
Kevin Robinson from Utah State: Drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
Derek Abney: Selected in the seventh round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.
Antonio Perkins: Perkins was drafted in the fourth round, 103rd overall, by the Cleveland Browns in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Below is the statistical breakdown of all eight players tied for the record:
Welcome back Janarion!