One of the most explosive players in the Big Ten will be back for the 2017 season.
Rutgers announced Tuesday that do-it-all man Janarion Grant will be back on the field for the Scarlet Knights this fall. Grant suffered a leg injury in the team's fourth game of the season and missed the last eight games of the campaign.
"Fifth year, here I come! I'm excited about what I have been able to accomplish so far, but I look forward to getting out there and competing with my teammates again," Grant said in the announcement. "I thank coach (Chris) Ash and the staff as well as my family for their support through this process. Let's make this season special. Go Knights!"
Grant is tied for the all-time NCAA lead in kick-return touchdowns with eight. He's got five kickoff-return touchdowns and three punt-return touchdowns.
This past season, Grant got off to a lightning-quick start, scoring six total touchdowns. In just four games, he totaled 210 receiving yards, 195 kickoff-return yards and a kickoff-return touchdown, 138 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, 21 passing yards and a passing touchdown and 112 punt-return yards and a punt-return touchdown.
Grant is Rutgers' all-time leader in kickoff-return yards with 2,606, and he ranks fourth in program history in all-purpose yards with 4,251.
The Knights were offensively challenged in Ash's first season as head coach, dead last in the conference with an average of 15.7 points per game and 283.2 yards per game. Former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill was hired earlier this offseason as the team's new offensive coordinator.
As a sign of good things to come, three Bears were selected to the NFL's all-rookie teams. But there's a negative thread running through the honors of linebacker Leonard Floyd being named to the rookie defensive team, and the selections of center Cody Whitehair and running back Jordan Howard to the rookie offensive team.
The concern lies not in the players or the personnel department under GM Ryan Pace that designated them for drafting. It is in the fact that the position coaches for all three rookie standouts are all gone from the staff of coach John Fox.
Finding talent is difficult enough. Developing it is the crucial next step in the football process, and what was evident in the rookie years of Floyd, Whitehair and Howard was that each developed into NFL-grade players with some very solid coaching.
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
Offensive line coach Dave Magazu was not brought back, reportedly in favor of former Miami Dolphins assistant offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, as reported by Sirius XM radio and Sporting News.
Stan Drayton, who coached Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State, then Howard this year, left for the University of Texas.
Outside linebackers coach Clint Hurtt appeared to be exiting for the New York Jets, although sources report that the deal may not go through.
Coaches can't create talent but they can certainly foster and maximize it. Replacing the mentors of their three top rookies from arguably the best draft class since 2004 (Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Bernard Berrian, Nathan Vasher) now becomes a talent search in its own right.