OSU Football’s Jaydon Grant embraces “underdog” mentality

OSU redshirt sophomore cornerback Jaydon Grant earned his first career interception this season. 

With 4 minutes and 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Oregon State Football game versus California on Oct. 19, the OSU led at 21-17 with their defense on the field. The Beavers had already surrendered a two-touchdown lead earlier in the game to the Bears, and needed one final stop to solidify what could be their second upset PAC-12 road victory.

California true freshman quarterback Spencer Brasch dropped back for a pass but threw a ball that was tipped by OSU redshirt junior linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and intercepted by Grant. The interception is a continuation of an impressive season after coming back from multiple injuries in his collegiate career.

“The first thing I thought was how much time was on the clock,” Grant said in reaction to his interception against California. “I had the easiest job on the field picking that ball off. I wouldn’t of gotten it without Ham tipping the ball and the rest of the team being in position to allow me to make the play.”

Grant recognized his teammates roles, and is an athlete with a family who knows the importance of teammates. He is the son of former NBA player, Brian Grant who notably played for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1997-’00. 

“My first love was basketball, looking up to my dad playing in the league,” Grant said. “I never felt any pressure in athletics. [My] parents did a good job of letting us do what we wanna do.”

Grant’s main athletic focus growing up was basketball and he did not plan on pursuing football collegiately until after his senior season at West Linn High School. He played in youth football but took time off to focus on his first love.

“I was in the stands for the first couple games of the season,” Grant said about his senior year. “It was something I always wanted to get back into.” Encouragement from others helped Grant give football another shot. 

Making short work of this transition, he quickly becoming a starter and eventually helped his team reach the Oregon State Athletic Association 6A state championship. Following this, Grant still had the remainder of his senior basketball season, where he would help push his team to a record four consecutive state titles.

Former high school teammate and current junior cornerback for the Washington Huskies, Elijah Molden has a similar background in a father who played professional football.

“I just always remember pushing [Grant] to play,” Molden said. “I watched him in basketball and you could see that his skills would transition to football.” 

Another force in Grant choosing football was Houston Lillard, brother to Blazers starting point guard Damian Lillard. Houston Lillard has made waves of his own in the Oregon sports scene, along with a prolific professional sports career of his own.

Lillard runs a program called Team Lillard Football, which focused on developing 7 on 7 football for high school athletes in the Oregon area. He also played collegiate football at Southeast Missouri and had a career in arena football as a quarterback. 

“I never understood why he didn’t play football,” Lillard said about Grant. “Jaydon was one of the kids who used to play basketball and train with a lot of the football guys.”

Lillard also said Grant’s resilience is a characteristic that not many are able to see but that impacts his play. 

“Jaydon has that blue collar mentality and is ready for the opportunity, which you can see from his adversity and fighting back from injuries,” Lillard said. 

Grants injuries are ones that could have ended his run in football with three surgeries under his belt. Last spring,he crashed into a metal fence in an attempt to break up a pass during practice. Grant was taken away on a stretcher, a situation that made his future in football doubtful.

“When I think about it, I just gotta thank God,” Grant said. “I know my mom and dad have a lot of heart and passion in what they do, and I never counted myself out.” 

With Grant’s role on the team rising, the Beavers record continues to rise too as the defense has played a critical role in the team’s success. His so called “blue collar mentality” has had an effect on him his whole life, including where he decided to go to school.

“Oregon approached me, and I was committed there for a month,” Grant said. “The I took a visit to OSU. I felt like it fit me better, and I kind of like that feeling of being an underdog, so I gelled well with it.” 

Grant’s under dog ideals have proven to fit well into the program, as the work is being shown on the field from the whole team. The highs and lows of collegiate sports have their moments, but Grant is working to rise to the occasion. 

“We’ve been making natural strides in our second year with a new coach,” Grant said on knowing there is a process that the team and fans must be patient with.

The Beavers head home to Corvallis for a Fall Family Weekend matchup against the Washington Huskies. The two will face off after the Beavers’ third conference road win against the Arizona Wildcats and after the Huskies’ home loss to the #9 Utah Utes. Kickoff is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Reser Stadium. 

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