To say most everybody was caught off guard would be an understatement. In what by all accounts appeared to be something that developed very quickly, former UND right tackle Elijah Grady (New Town, ND) has decided to return to the the UND Football program.
On Friday, Coach Bubba Schweigert announced that Grady is going to rejoin the team this summer. He will report to workouts on May 31st and be a member of the team for the 2017 season. Grady will be a sophomore.
It appears that Grady and his parents made the decision in the middle of last week to ask Coach Schweigert for another shot after exploring other options. Familiarity and location are always big factors in any decision.
Per the Grand Forks Herald article, Grady had offers from Eastern Washington and South Dakota State, with NDSU reaching out to him, as well.
What does this mean for UND and for Elijah himself? Well, let’s take a look at it:
- Grady needs to get in shape. There is no way he is even close to football shape so reporting as early as possible will be critical.
- We pointed out in our spring ball review post that UND needs help at the tackle position. Grady was the former starter there as a true freshman. He has played in 7 games total, starting the last five of the 2015 season. In those last five games, Grady played very well and seemed to be evolving and catching up to the speed of the FCS game.
- The right tackle position as it sits now is a battle between former starter Mat Cox (before he injured his knee early in 2016), sophomore Bryce Blair (who started at the end of the 2016 season), and now Grady. All three have experience and all three can play the position.
- Grady is considered a very quick learner with great feet and hands. His technique and strength need to improve to be dominant though. But, that comes with reps. He will also need to earn his way back onto the team, which comes with hard work.
- There is a ways to go but we are excited to see if he can reach his full potential. Grady has a big upside but is going to be pushed by the previously mentioned players who have just as good a shot at the starting RT spot as he does.
- This is big for the depth of the entire OL. Reason we say that is if OL coach Luke Knauf likes what he has in Cox or Blair he can move Grady down to guard to fight for one of those jobs, as well.
One has to remember where we are coming from when we say a position group is a reason for concern. UND had a “playoff” level offensive line last season. They were decent. However, they need a “championship” level offensive line to achieve their real goal.
We will always grade the offensive line harder than most all other position groups because the offense as a whole goes as they go. If UND cannot run the ball they are dead in the water. Period. It would take a monumental effort from Keaton Studsrud & his WR’s, along with the UND defense, to overcome UND not being able to run the ball and dominate up front. So crucial to have the big boys up front moving the chains via the ground game.
Again, Grady has a lot of work to do to get caught up again and nothing will be handed to him. He needs to go earn it for himself, his teammates and the coaching staff. His presence on the o-line will help with the offense overall with the added quality depth and the team collectively.
Welcome back Elijah.