On Thursday, several former Rutgers Scarlet Knights played in professional sports games. Brian O’Grady finally made his MLB debut (going 0-1) and a host of other players participated in NFL preseason games. Despite all that happening domestically, one man stole the show.
Janarion Grant in his Canadian Football League debut returned not just one, but two punts for touchdowns. Those would be the only two times the Winnipeg Blue Bombers reached the end zone in a thrilling 26-24 win over the Calgary Stampeders. The CFL has had more return touchdowns this year than any time in recent memory, but the Blue Bombers had been shutout of that category until breaking through in a big way.
When it was all over, Janarion had amassed over 300 return yards as the third former Scarlet Knight on an active Canadian roster. Former Winnipeg and Rutgers star Jamaal Westerman is now with Hamilton and Anthony Cioffi is in the midst of his second season with Ottawa.
Grant arrived at Rutgers as a three-star prospect out of Florida, though those who saw him knew he was special. Give Kyle Flood credit because this was one of those gems he brought to RU. Despite being injured early in this 4th season, Grant at that time was tied for the NCAA record of kick/punt return touchdowns with eight, a record since broken. He caught on with Baltimore as an undrafted free agent last year, dazzling in the preseason, and appeared in two regular season games.
Will he get another look in the NFL? Maybe. The Ravens were high on Grant last year before letting him go early in the season, but returners are becoming a less impactful part of the game with the rule changes. If not, we hope he stays in Canada where the wide open style and spaces are ideal for his skillset.