Today’s post celebrates the happy birthday anniversary of a former Michigan Co-Captain named J. J. Grant. According to the 1989 Michigan Football Media Guide, James Joseph “J.J.” Grant was born on this day in Liverpool, New York. The talented J.J. attended Liverpool High School where he became an outstanding athlete. Grant starred on the football field and on the track. In 1984, he was named a Parade All-American football player and athlete of the year in the State of New York. Yes, J. J. Grant had lots of good choices for his college career, but he chose to play for Bo Schembechler and Michigan.
(Note – Co-Captain J. J. Grant, shown above, and his teammates played like champions in 1989.)
J. J. Grant arrived in Ann Arbor in the summer of 1985. He spent his first year learning the Michigan Football System and getting stronger in the weight room. Grant did not play a down as a true freshman and burned his red-shirt.
Grant returned in 1986 to earn some playing time and possibly a starting linebacker spot. As it turned out, he played in every game on special teams and played linebacker in nine games. He recorded 28 (20 solo and 8 assists) tackles for the season and recovered two fumbles. Grant earned his first varsity letter and helped the Wolverines post a record of 11-2-0. Michigan also earned a share of the Big Ten Championship that season.
As usual, everyone in Ann Arbor had high expectations for their Wolverines in 1987. J. J. Grant and his teammates wanted to win the Big Ten Championship, not just a share. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that way. Michigan ended the season with a final record of 8-4-0 and a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten (5-3-0). J. J. earned 7 starts at inside linebacker and recorded 62 tackles (52 solo and 10 assists).
J. J. Grant was back again in 1988 and focused on playing as much as he could and winning a Big Ten Title. The Wolverines got off to a rough start – losing two close games to Notre Dame and Miami of Florida. Michigan did not lose for the rest of the season, but did tie Iowa 17-17. Bo’s footballers ended the season with a final record of 9 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. They won the Big Ten Championship with a record of 7-0-1. Grant started 9 games in 1988 and recorded a career high 72 tackles.
The Michigan Football team decided that J. J. Grant and Derrick Walker would be the team captains in 1989. Both men entered their final season started with a simple goal – repeat as Big Ten Champions! Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened. For the second straight year, Michigan opened the season with a loss to Notre Dame. Then, the Wolverines went on a 10-game winning streak to finish the regular season at 10 wins and 1 loss. Michigan posted a perfect record of 8-0-0 in the conference and won the championship for the second straight year. J. J. Grant started 9 games and recorded 70 more tackles.
J. J. Grant came in when Bo was the head coach at Michigan and he went out with the legendary Schembechler after the 1989 season. Grant was fortunate to play on some very good teams from 1986 to 1989. The Wolverines posted a record of 38 wins, 10 losses and 1 ties during that period. They won three Big Ten titles for Bo, including two in a row at the end (1988 and 1989). Grant also played in two winning bowl games (1988 & 1989).
I enjoyed watching J. J. Grant play at Michigan − that’s for sure! He was one of the most athletic linebackers I have ever seen. I hope that he has a very “Happy Birthday” on his special day today! Thanks to J. J. for his contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. James Joseph Grant stayed, he played, and he left as a champion – just like Bo promised! Go Blue!
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