University of Houston Junior defensive back Grant Stuard made an immediate impact when the season began against Oklahoma finishing with a game high of 14 tackles. Stuard leads Houston in tackles with 69 total, 48 of them solo.
Stuard finished with a career-high 15 tackles in a win at UConn, and was named to the Honor Roll in the weekly American Athletic Conference football honors. Coach Holgorsen for the time in his coaching career gave Stuard the game ball in the locker room after the win.
We caught up with Stuard to get to know more about him.
Q: What did it mean to you knowing you would have a bigger role on defense, coming into the season?
A: It meant a lot because for the past two years I have been just a third-down player or a special teams guy. So at first, I was kind of nervous about it, cause knowing I would be in the game the whole time, you have to be dependable. Over this season it has become something I am excited about! Excited I get to make plays and be out there with my guys.
Q: Deontay Anderson said throughout the spring and fall the two of you talked about how your opportunity was coming and that you said you wanted to be closer to the line of scrimmage. Expand on the nickel position you are playing, plus how it fits you.
A: I feel it fits me a lot, just cause I am aggressive. I have had to learn to be smarter with my aggression and control my aggression but at the same time I feel like this position fits me a lot more just because I get to be really active around the ball and play like a linebacker sometimes, other times play like a safety.
Q: How has Coach Gideon helped you grow as a defensive back?
A: Coach Gideon has helped me more as a person more than anything I think. Of course, he has taught me more football than anybody that I have been around. He makes me feel comfortable playing, he lets me play how I play, and he just demands a certain standard from all of us in the room. Through our conversations, he has also demanded a standard from me in my life personally. I think that is what I am most grateful for from him. The way he has impacted me as an individual, and kind of helped me in areas of my life like accountability, responsibility. He has sent an example for me as well. He is probably the first adult that has held me to a high level of accountability since I have been in college.
Q: How do you feel you have grown from game to game, on a weekly basis?
A: Every week I feel like we get better as a team, and I am on the team. So I feel like every week we try to continuously get better and see the mistakes that we made the week before making sure you don't make them again. Also, just taking stuff away from each game and learning from it, growing from it. I just need to do my job better, instead of worrying about everyone else's job, is something I took from our last game. I try to take something from every game to make sure I don't do it for the remainder of the season. Or something that I did well, and just try to keep it going.
Q: The defense has definitely gotten better. In each of the last three of four games, the defense has made plays to give the team a shot to win those games. As a unit, how do you feel the defense has grown together, in addition to overall as a defense?
A: I think that the unit is really important for the defense. In previous years it has been like you have your starters, and you have your friends then that is kind of how it was.. Then when the two get in there the whole unity was not there. Now it is like we have so many people that have had to step up and play, we have so many people that have brand-new opportunities, and we still feel that brotherhood when we are on the field. We are still trying to get better, but as a defense, we have to impact the game way more than we are right now. It is cool that we are getting better, having one turnover a game is not acceptable. Allowing teams to score 38 points is unacceptable. Whether we lost by three or not, that is something that we can control as a defense that we need to try to start doing the next game.
Q: Today there was breaking news that college athletes will eventually be able to make money off of their likeness, and their name. How do you feel about that?
A: I think that is an amazing thing! I just left from talking to compliance about it, I was like give me money now (laughs). They were saying they are not expecting any real changes until 2021 at the earliest. I hope that it affects me personally just because of my situation. I think it is so awesome for people that think about not going to college because they have to take care of their family or not going far away because of their family. That is part of the reason I came to Houston because I cannot be far. I think it is something that benefits everybody involved from sponsorships, endorsements to just the fact that we are generating so much income. I have been on national television countless numbers of times, on commercials and have received no benefit of that. So I think it is fair and awesome they are finally doing something about it.
Q: The next two weeks you guys once again face two really good offenses with UCF, then Memphis. What kind of challenges do they bring?
A: The thing about both teams is that they are very simple on offense. They don't try to trick you, they just lineup play football, and try to beat you. That is kind of refreshing just because a lot of teams we have played are tricky teams that try to out scheme you and try to put you in a bad situation. The next few games are kind of simple game plans. We are excited to just lineup and play football against somebody.
Q: You are more than just a football player. For those who do not know you personally tell us who Grant Stuard is.
A: I am a child of God. In my life, I have not always been in touch with my relationship with God as much as I am now. Football is going to end, so I do not define myself as a football player. School is going to end, one day everybody in my family is going to die. Nothing lasts forever, nothing is forever. The only thing that has meaning is God. That is the only thing that is everlasting. So for you to ask me about who I am, it is as simple that I am a child of God. I am very family-oriented. My siblings are the most important things to me on earth and I have four siblings Jojo, Alex, Malachi, Samaria. Their initials are J.A.M.S., so I write them on my cleats. I really challenge myself to set a good example for them, to show that no matter what cards you are dealt you can make something of yourself. I try to encourage them with my actions, my words and try to do as much for them financially, plus try to mentor them from here as best as I can. They are getting older, so now we are becoming more like friends. I am getting a lot more closer to them as of late. I am all about my faith and my family!
Q: Does that play into what kind of leader you are? A lead by example type of guy?
A: Yea, I definitely try. Nobody is perfect. I am not the most athletic, or the most gifted when it comes to the game but I try to just give my everything into the game. So that nobody is going to see me and think he is not going hard, or he is not giving everything he has to encourage everybody around me to do the same thing. I know that if there is one play that I am not running or one play that I am not doing my best to do my job then how can I ever encourage somebody else to do that.