Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gritty Grantham not returning for senior season at Tarleton State

Sub-headline - Record-setting QB says decision is final

Sports Editor

Scott Grantham accomplished a lot for a player who was once told he would never take a snap in a college football game.

Now, after three seasons in which he compiled a 27-7 record as a starter, the Tarleton State quarterback who already has a bachelor's degree in business management is calling it quits.

Grantham, the school's career record holder for touchdown passes with 57, says he won't return for his senior season of eligibility with the Texans.

"This has not been an easy decision by any means. I've been thinking and praying about it and doing everything I've been taught when it comes to making good decisions," said Grantham, who played much of the season with an injured throwing shoulder. "It's been a long, tough year, but it's also been an incredible experience with a great team. I'm very grateful for the opportunities I've had and I'm thankful it all happened at Tarleton - it's a special place."

Tarleton coach Sam McElroy was not surprised by Grantham's decision.

"I respect his decision and have no arguments with it. He was pretty beat up the last half of the season, keeping his shoulder in a sling until Wednesday each week then throwing some passes on Thursday and starting on Saturday," McElroy said. "He's already graduated and he's marrying a great girl next spring. I respect everything he's done for this program and for Tarleton, and I know he will be successful in whatever he pursues in life."

Grantham, 22, leaves the football program as the school's No. 2 career passer with 7,860 yards. He is also No. 2 in career attempts with 997 and No. 2 in completions with 550. He is No. 2 in passing yards per game at 231.2 after posting the fourth and fifth best seasons ever by a Tarleton QB with 2,985 passing yards this season and 2,882 as a freshman in 2007.

The trigger puller led Tarleton to its second Lone Star Conference co-championship this fall, as well as its second co-championship in the LSC South.

The Texans also won an NCAA Division II playoff game for the second time in school history with Grantham providing the winning touchdown and two-point conversion in double overtime.

Grantham made the biggest play of his career when he broke tackles and used a highlight-reel spin move to scramble for a 20-yard TD on fourth-and-five after the Texans fell behind 56-49 against Texas A&M-Kingsville on Nov. 14. He then took the snap and followed lead blockers off right tackle for a two-point conversion that lifted Tarleton to a dramatic 57-56 win.

"It would be difficult to match that experience even if I played for another 10 years," Grantham said. "It was an incredible season for a great team."

It was incredible - especially considering Grantham was once the victim of a condition that nearly robbed him of the opportunity to play at all.

Grantham suffered from serious headaches in the summer of 2006 and ended up making a late-night run to the emergency room in his hometown of El Paso. He was later diagnosed with Arterio-Venous Malformation (AVM), an abnormal collection of blood vessels in the brain that can cause seizures or persistent headaches.

Because of where the AVM was located, doctors told Grantham there was a 50 percent chance he could lose half his envision.

The field general believed his college career was over, but Dr. Kris Smith in Phoenix performed a new procedure known as gamma knife radiation, and Grantham has had no effects since.

He hoped to return to the gridiron at New Mexico State, where he signed after earning district and city MVP honors at El Paso Franklin High School. But team doctors weren't comfortable with him returning, so he transferred to Tarleton.

The rest is history.

Grantham's decision leaves the Texans with a number of candidates for the starting QB job next season, including Casey Page, currently a junior, from Hereford. Page was the No. 3 signal caller for Tarleton this year behind Grantham and backup Kelan Luker.

"We don't have anyone else on campus that has attempted a pass in college. Naturally, that's a concern," McElroy said.

Jake Fenske, who was a redshirt freshman this season and played his high school ball at Round Rock McNeil, and Aaron Doyle, who redshirted this fall after starring at nearby Evant, will also compete for the job.

"We have some guys on campus we're excited to see compete for the job (in spring ball)," McElroy said.

The head coach also said the quarterback position now becomes a point of emphasis as coaches hit the recruiting trail.

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