Tulane's Ryan Grant named to Biletnikoff Award watchlist

NEW ORLEANS — While the start of preseason practice is still three weeks away, preseason honors have begun rolling in for a Tulane University football standout.

Junior wide receiver Ryan Grant was named to the 2011 Biletnikoff Award Watchlist on Tuesday after tallying 33 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore during the 2010 season.

Grant is one of six Conference USA student-athletes to earn a spot on the 2011 Biletnikoff Watchlist, joining Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson of Southern Methodist University, Kelvin Bolden of Southern Miss, Patrick Edwards of Houston, Damaris Johnson of Tulsa and Lance Lewis of East Carolina. He is also one of three players from Louisiana schools to claim a spot on the awards’ preseason candidates, joining Ladarius Green of Louisiana-Lafayette and Ruben Randal of Louisiana State University.

For his career, Grant has snared 42 passes for 554 yards and five touchdowns. He is the team’s top returning wideout after ranking second on the team in receiving yards, tied for second in scoring grabs and fourth in catches a season ago.

Sponsored by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, the award is named in honor of former All-American and Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff.

As a sophomore in 2010, Grant played in all 12 games with six starts. After catching just three passes over the first five games, he enjoyed a breakout contest on Oct. 16 at Tulsa when he caught a then-career best six passes for 128 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown reception.

From there, he had multiple-catch contests in each of the final seven games of the year, including a three-catch, 140-yard, two-touchdown outing against Rice on Nov. 13 in the Louisiana Superdome. He clinched a 54-49 victory over the Owls with a 73-yard scoring reception with 1:46 left in the game.

His yardage and touchdown totals in that contest are both career highs and he set a new personal-best with eight catches (for 68 yards and a score) in the season finale at Marshall.

Over the final seven games of the 2010 season, Grant averaged 16.3 yards per reception, while tallying marks of 4.3 receptions and 69.9 yards per contest.

The Biletnikoff Award dates back to 1994 and has been awarded annually to the nation’s outstanding college football receiver. Previous winners include current NFL All-Pros Randy Moss (Marshall, 1997), Larry Fitzgerald (Pitt, 2003), Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech, 2006) and two-time award-recipient Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech, 2007 and 2008).

The award’s namesake was the first consensus All-American in the history of the Seminole program and was drafted in the second round of the American Football League by the Oakland Raiders and the third round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions in 1965. Opting to sign with the AFL, Biletnikoff donned the black and silver from 1965-78 and spent the 1980 season with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Biletnikoff completed his career with 589 receptions and posted 40-or-more receptions 10 consecutive seasons. Along the way, he was named most valuable player of Super Bowl XI, was selected to play in a pair of AFL All-Star games and four AFC-NFC Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

Following his playing days, Biletnikoff spent 18 years with the Raiders organization, including the final 10 seasons as the team’s receivers coach, before retiring in 2007.

The award is voted on by 200 prominent journalists, commentators, announcers and former players. The winner is announced at the ESPNU College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla., and presented each February in Tallahassee, Fla.

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