Darrien Grant, with his tantalizing mix of size and athleticism, became one of the most coveted rising seniors in Manatee County over the summer, pulling in three Atlantic Coast Conference scholarship offers and six total. He decided Tuesday, however, he wants to stay home. The defensive end verbally committed to South Florida following the second day of fall practice.
Grant was a critical cog for one of the best defenses in the county last year and helped the Seminoles reach the postseason one year removed from a one-win season. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound defensive end racked up 42 total tackles and 11 1/2 tackles for a loss. The junior also tied for second on the team with 4 1/2 sacks and eight hurries. He also recovered one fumble.
Grant was recruited to Tampa by defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie, a Palmetto native who went on to coach at Bayshore and his alma mater, PHS. Grant will play for head coach Willie Taggart, a former Manatee quarterback who led the Hurricanes to a state championship. At a youth camp in Palmetto last month, Taggart referred the Tampa Bay Area, including Manatee County, as “in-state” for the Bulls.
Last month, Grant attended a camp at the University of South Florida along with a handful of other players from the area. He now chooses USF over offers from Duke, North Carolina State, Boston College, Navy and Buffalo.
Grant is the second player in the Class of 2017 to make his verbal commitment after Lakewood Ranch tackle committed to Central Florida last month. Commitments cannot become binding until National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
The Noles open the regular season Aug. 26 against Brooksville Nature Coast Tech. They travel to Tampa to face Leto in a preseason classic Aug. 19.