By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Jesse Grandy has returned kicks, returned punts – lots of them – for two schools.
Saturday he returns to Ole Miss, and he’s pretty excited about.
Grandy, a Pine Bluff, Ark., native, was a wide receiver and solid special teams performer on the 2009 and 2010 Houston Nutt teams before transferring to Central Arkansas.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We could have opened up the schedule with anybody. We could play New Mexico or somebody in New Hampshire. It’s a chance for me to go back and see a lot of old friends and have a small, little reunion,” Grandy said.
Grandy left to be closer to home. Nutt said Grandy was dealing with family health concerns in Feb. 2011, the time of his departure.
Grandy quickly made his mark on special teams at Ole Miss. He averaged 25.7 yards on kick returns as a freshman, and as a sophomore Grandy was third in the SEC with an average of 14.7 yards on punt returns.
He never made the same impact from the line of scrimmage, but that’s changed in Conway, Ark.
Grandy was second-team All-Southland Conference in 2011, leading the Bears with 49 catches for 788 yards and nine touchdowns.
He also rushed nine times for 49 yards.
“I think Jesse has matured a lot over the last year,” UCA coach Clint Conque said. “We did have to teach him on the run last year. He had a good spring and he’s had a good camp.”
The UCA passing game is a bit of an unknown this season as the Bears replace All-American quarterback Nathan Dick, a University of Arkansas transfer, with more mobile Wynrick Smothers.
The Bears will have four new starters on the offensive line, but the lone returnee, 6-foot-3, 295-pound left tackle Dominique Allen, was all-conference last year.
Jackie Hinton, one of three senior running backs, rushed for 673 yards and four touchdowns in 2011.
Grandy doesn’t get caught up in what might have been had he remained in the SEC.
“It was a pretty good experience. I played good. I did a couple of good things,” he said. “It helped me get to this point where I’m at right now.”