Indianapolis (AP) — Grant DuBose seized opportunities when no one else did.
He accepted his only scholarship offer out of high school, from Alabama’s Division II Miles College, less than two weeks before signing day. When the COVID-19 pandemic canceled his 2020 season, he took four jobs between practices so he could pay the bills. At the urging of a friend, Miles leaves in 2024 for a summer tryout with Division I Charlotte.
Now, after two strong college seasons, DuBose may be about to see the payoff — going from grocery and Walmart employee to NFL pick in three years.
“What has it taught me about life? Just the importance of working hard,” he said. “Get in, work those shifts, and once I’m down, find time to do more work, go out on the field and go to the gym. The process of working hard and working for the things you really want in life has taught me.”
The lean receiver never doubted he could make it happen – given the chance. Most of them have not.
College scouts visited Montgomery, Alabama to see local stars like quarterback James Foster, a Texas A&M recruit, or linebacker Kevontae Rogers, younger brother of former NFL receiver Henry Rogers and All-Miss recruit.
Even at Park Crossing High School, DuBose was overshadowed by standout teammates like Louisville’s star quarterback Malik Cunningham, or Nebraska’s linebacker Cam Taylor Brett.
Amidst so much talent, DuBose got lost.
He finished his prep career as a zero-class recruit with the only scholarship offer coming from the historic Black College & University located in Fairfield, Alabama. DuBose struggled rushing there as well, catching just eight passes for 104 yards and one touchdown as a backup in 2019.
Then came COVID season and DuBose did everything he could to survive.
In addition to working at Wal-Mart, he said, “I got my groceries bagged, and I’ve had this job since I was 16.” “I worked at a Hyundai Glovis manufacturing plant. I was responsible for getting the cars and loading them onto the train. I also did a little Door Dash changing the crap.”
But DuBose’s real goal was to play football, so between shifts, he worked with Foster, then joined Charlotte who kept insisting DuBose join him.
When DuBose finally agreed to give the 49ers a chance, it didn’t take long for the coaches to see what they had in the talented 6-foot-2, 201-pound newcomer.
“You see Grant, a guy who doesn’t take it for granted and feels so grateful for the opportunity and you look at him like he’s a guy fighting his ass every single day because he’s so excited to be here,” then-coach Will Healy said after DuBose caught four goals. For 118 yards and two scores in his Division I debut, a standout win over Duke.
Things only get better from there. DuBose caught 126 passes for 1,684 yards and 15 scores in two seasons with the 49ers, ranking second in school history in all three categories.
But after Healy was fired in October, DuBose entered the transfer portal. Then he changed his mind in January.
“I was a little unsure of what I wanted to do with my future,” he said at the gathering. “One morning, I woke up feeling ready and decided to bet on myself and here I am today.”
DuBose, like the other of about 300 invitees, didn’t come to Indianapolis by accident.
What scouts offered in march It was similar to what Charlotte’s coaches have seen in 2024.
DuBose made quick cuts and easily adjusted for pass coverage. Despite running the 40-yard dash of 4.57 seconds, his vertical jump of 35 inches and broad jump of 10 feet 5 inches tied for first-round prospect Jaxon Smith-Njigba. And his drill time of 3 cones, 6.89 seconds, ranked third among all receivers.
Now, DuBose is anxiously awaiting what might happen next weekend. Best Projections rates it as a third-day pick.
But DuBose faced far greater challenges on his way to the draft, and even if he has to work his way into the mix as a non-rookie, DuBose understands better what it takes to make a roster—and maybe even become a recruit from the Walton family’s newest draft, the Denver Broncos.
“Actually, I had a chance to talk with scouts from the Broncos at the Senior Bowl and that’s where the people who own Wal-Mart told me about the Broncos,” DuBose said. “It’s a different (journey), different from a lot of guys in the combination. But I’m grateful for that because it made me who I am today.”
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