TAMPA, Fla. — Not like many different NFL prospects, former College of Houston linebacker Grant Stuard wasn’t despatched a field of hats for the 2021 NFL draft. The one NFL hat he owned was a classic Tampa Bay Buccaneers hat his father introduced over from Spring, Texas, on Saturday.
“He stated one thing simply informed him to seize a hat as a result of he is a hat man,” stated Stuard, a first-team All-American Athletic Convention choice. “So he simply grabbed a random hat that he had. He did not know what this was. I did not know what this was.”
It simply so occurred to be the hat of the workforce that known as his title with the 259th total and ultimate decide of the draft, making him this yr’s Mr. Irrelevant.
“When their decide was up and so they have been on the telephone, he was pointing on the hat,” Stuard stated of his dad. “I used to be like, ‘That is simply loopy.’ It was simply by probability.”
Stuard attending to this second wasn’t by probability, nevertheless. The management abilities that led to him being voted a workforce captain at Houston have been cultivated at house. Although the 2 have been collectively in Houston for probably the most vital days of Stuard’s life, his relationship along with his dad has been marked by ups and downs and absenteeism, and he fought to look after his siblings.
“My mother is a drug addict. … She used to work within the intercourse business,” Stuard informed ESPN on Saturday evening. “My dad was in jail a superb portion of our younger life. Even when he wasn’t in jail, he was very absent once we have been rising up. That ends in each mother and father being absent the vast majority of the time.”
“It was bouncing from house to house,” Stuard stated. “Generally we did not know if there was gonna be meals on the desk. We did not know if the lights have been gonna be on. We did not know what college we have been gonna go to.”
Stuard discovered that within the grand scheme of issues, an unsure future within the NFL or being chosen final is nothing in contrast with preventing to outlive. He credit his religion, a village of those that helped elevate him and soccer — the one fixed he may flip to each August — for holding him on monitor.
“There have been lots of people alongside the way in which — loads of relations, loads of lecturers, loads of coaches — that deserve worlds of credit score for every part that they did,” Stuard stated. “Whether or not it was bringing a meal, or my Nina paying a invoice. There have been folks everywhere that simply actually gave again to us. In order that’s why I am actually captivated with giving again with the little issues I do as nicely.”
At his Houston professional day, Stuard raised cash for Heels to Halos, a Christian group that goals to assist ladies who have been concerned with intercourse trafficking. Stuard requested followers to pledge donations for every rep he carried out on the bench press, with a purpose of 25 reps. He wound up benching 28 reps, elevating $5,210. He additionally placed on back-to-school drives and toy drives.
“We love him as an individual and, clearly, as a participant,” common supervisor Jason Licht stated Saturday. “He is obtained lots emotion on the sphere. He is had a bit little bit of a tricky life, he is been caring for his siblings. … He is a really mature individual, a really accountable individual and a really accountable soccer participant. Guys that may get by way of powerful instances and adversity — that is a giant field to examine for us.”
So is Stuard’s special-teams skill, which was a spotlight for the Bucs on Day 3 of the draft. They love his velocity, physicality and toughness and consider it can translate nicely to their protection models.
“He jogs my memory — that is going manner again — I used to be with the Dolphins once we signed Larry Izzo out of Rice as an undersized linebacker that performed with an enormous coronary heart,” Licht stated. “He ended up making an incredible profession for himself as a particular groups linebacker. To not say that we do not suppose Grant has an opportunity to play linebacker — he’ll be [an inside linebacker] for us on the sphere — however we predict he is obtained an opportunity to excel as a special-teams ace.”
Stuard stated he hopes he can use his platform to assist others going by way of related obstacles, significantly these with absent mother and father.
As for Stuard’s relationship along with his household, each mother and father have been with him when he obtained the telephone name from Tampa Bay. His mom even popped in throughout his Buccaneers videoconference with native media.
“My mother … she pops in each from time to time,” Stuard stated. “My dad is doing a lot better. He positively has improved. His involvement is lots higher. He is changing into extra concerned and he helps my little brother with sports activities and stuff like that.”
Stuard stated his main driving power is being a task mannequin for his siblings. He and his spouse plan to maneuver at the very least considered one of his 4 siblings in with them.
“It doesn’t matter what adversity is available in your life, there’s all the time a manner out,” Stuard stated. “If you happen to simply preserve working laborious, doing every part which you could and every part which you could management and actually preserve the Lord’s will first in your life, I actually consider that you’ll be profitable. That is just about the mindset that I’ve day-to-day once I get up, is simply doing every part with every part I’ve, as a result of I do know that is the one day that I’ve.”