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Breakdown: How will Kelvin Grady fare under Rodriguez?

BY RUTH LINCOLN
Daily Sports Editor
Published June 7, 2009

Kelvin Grady may have left the men’s basketball team, but he didn’t go very far.

An Athletic Department spokesperson confirmed Thursday that the former Michigan men’s basketball point guard has joined the football team and is working out in the Wolverines’ summer conditioning program. Grady played two seasons under Michigan coach John Beilein and will have three years of remaining eligibility.

The Grand Rapids native earned all-state honors as a senior at East Grand Rapids with over 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns, and would likely play slot receiver under Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez. The Wolverines have available scholarships, and the quick, able-bodied former point guard could fit in well with Rodriguez's system. Or could he? Check out our breakdown and decide for yourself.

THE GOOD

Always the plan

When Grady verbally committed to Michigan under former men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker on Jan. 30, 2006, Grady wasn’t just signing a one-way ticket.

But after garnering all-state honors on the gridiron his junior year of high school with 1,716 yards and 19 touchdowns, his verbal signature was loaded.

“Before, when you asked me if I wanted to play basketball or football, I said, 'Basketball, no question,' ” Grady told the Grand Rapids Press in 2006. "Then came football season, and I had fun, and I thought, 'Maybe I would like to do this, too.’

“I talked about this with (football coach Lloyd) Carr and (basketball coach Tommy) Amaker, and they are both down with it. So I decided to do it. It is a great opportunity for me to do it. I feel like I have been doing both sports my whole life, why not in college, too?"

Of course, Grady ended up focusing solely on basketball, but Rodriguez can’t complain about a guy who intended to be the first to play football and basketball for Michigan since Tai Streets did in 1996-97.

Watch me run

Slot receivers who excel in a spread offense often have a knack for making things happen in open space. Sophomore Martavious Odoms will likely be the top slot receiver in Michigan’s home opener on Sept. 5, but Grady has the talent to potentially challenge Odoms.

Although he sat on the bench for the latter half of the Wolverines’ best season in more than a decade, Grady’s best attribute was his speed.

Breaking defensive traps and opponents’ full-court pressure came naturally to Grady. After the Wolverines beat Minnesota 74-62 on Feb. 19, Grady was asked what he thought of the Gophers’ full-court pressure. His answer was clear.

“Oh, I love it,” Grady said. “That’s when I smile.”

Leadership

During Michigan’s 20-point comeback win at Indiana in Bloomington, there were a number of major contributions, including timely 3-pointers from Laval Lucas-Perry, Manny Harris and C.J. Lee.

Grady didn’t showcase the box score that night, with just nine points and three assists, but he gave the Wolverines the extra motivation they needed.

“At halftime, we’re down 17 and he just wouldn’t stop talking, telling us to believe,” Harris said of Grady after the game. “Some people lead vocally, some people lead by example. He did both of them tonight.”

Leading in the locker room? Grady isn’t new to it, and it’s something Rodriguez and company can definitely appreciate.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

Meshing with RichRod

We’ve all heard at length how difficult it is to master Rodriguez’s spread offense in the first season, and the Wolverines have last season’s 3-9 record to prove it. Will Grady skip that transition period?

History says probably not.

As a freshman, Grady struggled to learn Beilein’s system — evidenced by his turnovers and poor shot selection. And even with a year under his belt, Grady never developed into a consistent point guard. Beilein put him in the starting lineup for eight straight games (beginning with his uplifting performance in Bloomington), but after that his minutes dwindled significantly.

Grady may struggle initially, but having experienced receivers like Odoms nearby could make the transition a little easier.

It's All in the Family

Grady will have to deal with his transition to the Big House in the fall, but his older brother could be dealing with bigger problems.

Last month, a Wyoming District court judge jailed Kevin Grady, a fifth-year senior tailback, for seven days for a probation violation. Grady was serving probation due to a drunk driving conviction last July.

Grady paid his court fines but otherwise, “did none of those things,” said Chris Kittman, a court administrator for the Wyoming District.

Grady served five days last month, and his status with the team is still uncertain. But according to his father, the accusations of violating his probation are false.

"Those are not correct — those accusations are not — that he did not fulfill any of his obligations," Kevin Grady Sr. told WTKA 1050 on May 28. "He had to have it done before his probation was done in July, and Kevin did complete three-fourths of it. Those accusations are not right."

Before Kelvin decided to officially try his hand on the gridiron, the Grady family drama was epic enough. It could be a distraction too significant for multiple Gradys in the Big House.

If he wasn’t a basketball player…

Kelvin Grady would be a football player. Right?

Not exactly.

When asked on the John Beilein radio show in January what sport he would play at Michigan if not basketball, Grady swiftly answered, “Baseball.”

At the time, Grady had become a semi-consistent starter and no one suspected he would be donning anything but baggy maize shorts the following season.

Realistically, the baseball comment isn’t worth reading in to. Maybe Grady just wanted to liven up the conversation. Whatever the reason, Grady has the tools to excel in a new uniform and with a new coach, it's just a question of whether that is enough.


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