A Master Plan

Nov. 19, 2013

UCF Athletics Social Media Directory

By Robert Hussey

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - An intelligent mind, a caring heart and a knack for dishing out and receiving plenty of physical punishment from 295-pound defensive tackles in order to protect Storm Johnson, Blake Bortles and other Knights teammates. UCF redshirt sophomore Joey Grant defies some of the stereotypes of the big, nasty guys in the trenches.

Grant, the Knights' starting center, is on pace to graduate this spring. He's been in college for just three years, yet he is about to hold a bachelor's degree from UCF. In fact, Grant credits football for helping him with the maturity, time-management skills and other attributes necessary to pull off such a feat.

It wouldn't be the first time he graduated before many of his classmates, either. Grant arrived at UCF for the 2011 spring semester, after graduating in December from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs. While the rest of his high school class would don their caps and gowns in May, Grant already had a semester of college and 15 key spring football practices under his belt.

"During my senior year of high school, I talked to my parents and when I saw opportunities to get a scholarship to play football, I told my parents that what I really wanted to do was graduate early and that's what I did," Grant said. "I graduated high school early, came in for the spring and I was really able to get ahead that way. I also had some AP credits, which helped out."

Common misperceptions of many collegiate student-athletes include ideas that they care less about their education than others or maybe they have everything made easier for them due to their status as a student-athlete. Grant is taken aback by these thoughts and is quick to defend student-athletes, especially his teammates. He and his UCF counterparts understand that football won't last forever, making education that much more important.

"I think all the players here really care about their education and understand they can't play football forever," Grant said. "I definitely believe that. It's something my parents instilled in me and something that Coach (George) O'Leary instills in us. I really work hard at my academics and I understand that I'm here to get my degree, first and foremost."

Grant, a business major, plans to continue his education - and his UCF football career - upon graduation this spring. Once he has his bachelor's degree, he plans to begin working on a master's of business administration (MBA).

"I really want to get into a master's program, and complete my master's while I'm still here at UCF," Grant said. "After that, I just want to look for any opportunities that may come up, maybe in a sales position with one of the different companies in this area. I haven't though too much about it yet. But I'm looking forward to it."

While Grant is busy balancing football and school, he still finds time to help out in the community. He is a member of the UCF Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). That group has a community service component, which is important to Grant.

"As student-athletes, we are natural leaders, whether we want to be or not," he said. "People look up to us. I feel like it's good to get involved with the students here on campus. I feel like it's good to give back to the community as well."

At a recent SAAC meeting this fall, a presentation about Pack To Attack Hunger at UCF spawned an idea from Grant. One of the largest people and heartiest eaters in the room suggested that SAAC give up one of the meals it has at its regular meetings, in order to donate the money normally used for that meal to Feeding Children Everywhere and the Pack To Attack Hunger event. All the SAAC members were on board and nearly $200 was donated toward the cause during the event, which was held Nov. 16 at the Venue at UCF.

Grant credits SAAC with helping him become more of a leader. He said the hands-on experience he has received from working with the group has been beneficial to him during college and will continue to serve him into the future.

"It goes along with my major," Grant said. "Getting into the business world, being able to talk with people, being able to manage certain situations and organize events. I think we do a pretty good job of that with SAAC. It has definitely helped me develop my leadership characteristics."