Grant Heard’s first season in 2022 as receivers coach on UCF coach Gus Malzahn’s staff produced one of the most potent pass-catching combinations in Knight annals.
Heard tutored three blue-chip receivers who combined to create a difficult-to-defend unit paced by second-team All-American Athletic Conference veterans Ryan O’Keefe (team-high 73 catches for 725 yards, 5 touchdowns; 107.3 all-purpose yards per game) and Alabama transfer Javon Baker (56 for team-high 796, 5 TDs)--plus Auburn transfer Kobe Hudson (39 for 641, 7 TDs; an average of 16.4 yards per reception). All of Hudson’s catches came over the final 10 games.
That trio alone combined for 168 catches for 2,162 yards—while helping the Knights rank among the national leaders in total offense (16th at 469.6 yards per game). AAC coaches rewarded O’Keefe with his second-team all-league honor, while Pro Football Focus did the same for Baker.
Heard came to Orlando after most recently serving as Indiana’s receivers coach for five years (2017-21)--the last two as the Hoosiers’ co-offensive coordinator and previous three as passing game coordinator. The former Ole Miss receiver spent the previous five seasons coaching receivers at his alma mater.
Under Heard’s direction in 2020, Ty Fryfogle became the first Hoosier wideout since 2007 to earn All-America honors (third team) and the first in program history to be named Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year. Nine times Hoosiers earned all-conference honors during Heard’s time in Bloomington, highlighted by Fryfogle’s 2020 first-team recognition.
Fryfogle, the first B1G pass-catcher with back-to-back 200-yard games, also was one of 11 Biletnikoff Award semifinalists in 2020. He finished his career sixth on the school’s career lists in receptions (158) and yardage (2,231) and tied for 10th in receiving touchdowns (10).
Whop Philyor, a 2021 free-agent signing of the Minnesota Vikings, closed out his career as Indiana’s all-time leader in double-digit catch games (seven), fourth in receptions (180), tied for fourth in 100-yard games (seven) and ninth in yardage (2,067).
A second-team all-league selection, Philyor became the seventh Hoosier to reach 1,000 yards (1,002) on 70 catches in 2019. His receptions ranked third in the Big Ten and sixth on Indiana’s single-season list, while his yardage totals were fourth and seventh, respectively.
From 2017-19, the Hoosiers finished in the top three in the conference in passing offense. They ranked second in 2019 (25th nationally), and third in 2018 and 2017 (tied for 35th nationally). En route to 2018 honorable-mention All-B1G recognition, current Tennessee Titan Nick Westbrook led the team with 590 yards.
Three wideouts earned 2017 all-league recognition, including first-teamer Simmie Cobbs Jr. Cobbs (72) and Luke Timian (68).They finished second and third in the league and shared fourth and sixth on the Indiana single-season list in catches. Additionally, Cobbs was fourth in the Big Ten in yardage (841) and tied for sixth in receiving scores (8), which shared 10th on Indiana’s single-season charts.
Heard completed his fifth campaign as the wide receivers coach at Ole Miss in 2016. He worked with current Hoosiers head coach Tom Allen at Ole Miss (2012-14), Arkansas State (2011) and Lambuth (2008-09).
Heard mentored 2015 Biletnikoff Award finalist Laquon Treadwell, the program’s first Biletnikoff finalist. Treadwell caught 82 passes (second in the SEC) for a league-leading 1,153 yards and 11 TDs. Treadwell broke 15 school records in 2015 and was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by Minnesota, while fellow Rebel standout Cody Core was selected in the sixth round by Cincinnati.
Heard’s 2015 receiving corps was one of four in the nation with seven or more players who caught at least 20 balls. Ole Miss broke nearly every offensive school record, while it led the conference and ranked in the Top 10 nationally in scoring (40.8), total (517.8), and passing offense (334.7).
In 2014, Ole Miss was the only SEC team with three receivers in the top 12 in TD receptions. The previous year Treadwell (5.58) and current New England Patriots wideout Donte Moncrief (4.42) ranked inside the league’s top eight in catches per game. Moncrief was sixth in the SEC in yards per game (68.8).
The 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year, Treadwell set freshman records in receptions (67), yardage (557) and scores (five). He topped all SEC freshman receivers in catches, yardage and TDs.
Moncrief declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year and finished his career in the top three in program history in receptions, yardage and TDs. He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round (90th pick).
Heard served as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas State (2010-11). Quarterback Ryan Aplin, the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, established school single-season records for total offense and passing yardage per game, and he ranked 10th in the nation in total offense.
His passing attack ranked 16th in the nation, and the Red Wolves finished 24th in total offense en route to a Sun Belt championship and a GoDaddy.com Bowl appearance.
Prior to Arkansas State, Heard spent 2008 and 2009 as Lambuth’s offensive coordinator. The 2008 Eagles accumulated 5,861 yards and became the top-ranked offense in the NAIA. Lambuth finished third in the nation in scoring offense and fourth in passing efficiency that year.
Upon completion of his playing career, Heard started his coaching career as the quarterbacks, wide receivers and special teams coach at Jackson Preparatory High School (Miss.) in 2002. He moved on to Hargrave Military Academy (Va.), where he led the wide receivers and helped Hargrave to an 8-1 record the following campaign.
He joined the collegiate ranks as an offensive graduate assistant at NC State in 2004, and he returned to Ole Miss as an offensive graduate assistant in 2005-06. He assisted in coaching the receivers and tight ends, and he tutored future NFL players Mike Wallace, Shay Hodge, Marshay Green, Mike Espy and Taye Biddle.
In 2007, Heard moved on to Western Michigan and coached wide receivers. He oversaw first-team All-Mid-American Conference selection Jamarko Simmons, the 15th-ranked receiver in the nation, and the receiving corps gained over 3,000 yards and scored 23 TDs.
A wide receiver at Ole Miss (1996-2000), Heard helped the Rebels to four bowl games and graduated as the school’s all-time leader in career catches and scores. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2001.
He signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 and was sent to play in NFL Europe. He appeared in pre-season games for San Francisco in 2001.
Heard’s brother Ronnie was a standout safety at Ole Miss and in the NFL, starting 29 games with the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons from 2000-05 and making 211 career tackles.
Heard is married to the former Renata Nowacki, a four-year letter-winner on the Ole Miss volleyball team in 1997-2000, and the couple has a son Jayden and a daughter Avery.
|2002||Jackson Prep (Miss.) High School||QBs/Receivers/Special Teams|
|2003||Hargrave Military Academy (Va.)||Receivers|
|2004||NC State||Offensive Graduate Assistant|
|2005-06||Ole Miss||Offensive Graduate Assistant|
|2010-11||Arkansas State||Passing Game Coordinator/QBs|