Article Provided by The Gamecock Newspaper
By: Alex Riley
Issue date: 7/13/05 Section: Sports
Long before people such as Michael Vick or Donovan McNabb hit the scene, Jeff Grantz had already showed what a "quarterback who can run" looked like. His footwork and arm strength made him one of the most beloved Gamecock players of all time.
Veteran Gamecock sportscaster Bob Fulton called Grantz "the best all-around athlete that Carolina's ever seen."
"He was an excellent football player, he could have been on the basketball team if he'd had the time, and he was an excellent baseball player." Fulton said. "He pulled a lot of games out of the fire. He was tough, a real team leader."
A native of Bel Air, Md., Grantz came to Columbia in 1972 with the promise of being able to play a varsity sport on a full rid scholarship, no matter which sport he chose.
"Coach Dietzel, who coached football and was the athletic director at the time, was actually the only person to offer me the opportunity to play both sports from the beginning of my career, throughout," Grantz said. "Actually he offered me an and/or scholarship to where I could play football, baseball or both. In other words, if things didn't work out in football, I could drop off and play just baseball."
Luckily for Gamecock fans, they both worked out.
Grantz finished his stellar Gamecock career behind only Tommy Suggs as the second-best career passing leader with 3,440 yards through the air and 26 touchdowns. Today, Grantz is No. 7 on the career list. When he left USC in 1975, he sat in the top 10 of career rushing yards with 1,577 and another 26 touchdowns. Today, he sits at No. 20.
"(Running and throwing are) a great luxury to have," Grantz said. "Fortunately for me, I had the gift of some speed coming up through my college career. We did a lot of things that revolved around an athletic quarterback. We ran the veer, a sprint out passing attack, a lot (of) the offense was designed around a running quarterback."
While he will always be known as a quarterback, Grantz shined with his feet and his arm. He owns three passing plays of 60 yards or more in the Carolina record book, but it was a game in 1973 against Ohio that showcased his footwork. Grantz posted a 260-yard performance against Ohio, the best rushing performance by a Gamecock until 1991, when Brandon Bennett posted a 278-yard day against East Tennessee State.
The best season with Grantz at the helm came in 1975 when some of USC's most historic football moments took place. He received a huge supportive showing from his backfield, as USC posted the second duo of running backs in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards each. Kevin Long (1,133) and Clarence Williams (1,073) posted 1,000-yard campaigns, while Grantz added almost another 500 yards on the ground.
While the statistics were historic, so was the season finale, as USC squared off with Clemson for bowl eligibility.
After losing to N.C. State on the road in a tight ball game, USC returned home and never gained the upper hand against Appalachian State, allowing a 39-34 upset.
"Going into (the Clemson game), it was real important we won that game to be bowl eligible," Grantz said. "The coaches put together a great game plan for us. (The coaches) came up with this scheme that really put pressure on their defensive backs and, to be honest with you, the defensive backfield of Clemson never could adjust to that motion and never could cover the right person."
The result was a drubbing 56-20 of the Tigers, as Grantz threw for five scores and ran for another. The Gamecocks won so easily they never punted or kicked a field goal all day.
"That was about as perfect of an offensive performance as you could hope for," Grantz said.
Grantz's senior season concluded with a 7-4 record and a berth in the Tangerine Bowl, USC's first bowl bid since 1969.
"The bowl game was definitely a great thing for us," Grantz said. "That was our goal from our freshman year on. Our goal was to go to a bowl game. We had just missed that my sophomore year at 7-4. Our senior year with a new coach, we didn't really have any idea what would happen with that. But everything fell into place. It was just a great culmination to my career."
USC was matched up with a Miami of Ohio team that featured a handful of players that would later play in the NFL. The RedHawks won the game 20-7, ending Grantz's football career as a Gamecock.
His success on the college gridiron didn't go unnoticed, as Grantz was selected a Second Team All-American in 1975, and earned spots on the East-West Shrine Game, Japan Bowl and Hula Bowl rosters.
The NFL seemed not to take notice of Grantz's abilities, as the Miami Dolphins drafted him in the 17th round. After rookie mini-camp, he returned to Columbia where he became a graduate assistant for coach Jim Carlen for two years before getting into the business.
"At that time when I was drafted as an athlete, Bob Griese was (the Dolphins) starter, Earl Morall was their backup and Don Strock was their number three," Grantz said. "When I went to the three day rookie camp, I was put in as a receiver some and really didn't feel comfortable. "
While his success was unlike any other at USC, Grantz received one of the most prestigious awards ever given out, being named to the USC All-Century team as the quarterback in 1992 when Carolina celebrated its 100th football anniversary.
Grantz will be imortalized as a quarterback, but also had a successful run as a shortstop for the baseball team, making a trip to the championship game of the College World Series.
Still living in the Columbia, Grantz works for Capital Wine as one of the best known salesmen in the Southeast.