Temple University junior quarterback Clinton “Juice” Granger will play more this season than he did a year ago, when his on-field contribution was limited to handing off on the final series of the Owls’ 42-7 opening win over Villanova.
How much or when Granger is on the field is still to be determined, but Temple coach Steve Addazio said the junior will see action.
After transferring from Pierce (Calif.) Junior College last year, Granger was essentially the fourth quarterback on the roster behind Mike Gerardi, Chester Stewart and Chris Coyer – who all earned starts in 2011.
Stewart graduated and Gerardi left the team, moving Granger up to No. 2 this spring behind Coyer, who started the last four games and seems firmly entrenched as the starter.
The athletic Granger is a fit for Addazio’s spread-option offense, but the installation was an ongoing process in the coach's first season. The coach toyed with the idea of putting together a “Wildcat” package for Granger in 2011, but said that wouldn’t be the case this year.
With Coyer and Granger having similar skill sets, Addazio said he would have to find a way to play Granger within the regular offense.
“He’ll get on the field,” assured Addazio. “He has to play. In the event of an injury, he can’t come off having no experience. He’s not a Wildcat guy, he has to go out and play, so go play.
“Both our guys are guys who can run and throw. We don’t need a Wildcat. You use a Wildcat when your quarterback isn’t a good runner, both these guys are good runners now. I don’t know (when I’ll use him), I’m not a rotational guy. But he needs to play to get some experience.”
Granger said Addazio hadn’t shared any plans for his role with him, but said he was happy to hear he would have one.
“I’m just learning, growing, maturing and being the best student-athlete I can be,” said Granger. “I just want to be a team player. Whatever I can do to be an asset to the team, I’m all for it.
"Everybody on the team wants to get on the field in some sort of way and hopefully when my number’s called, I’m ready. Whatever the coaches expect of me, I can do.”
Granger admitted he expected more out of his sophomore season, but also agreed he was learning the whole time. Addazio almost put Granger in the regular-season finale against Kent State when Coyer was injured, but instead opted for Gerardi and Stewart.
“I didn’t expect I would sit the whole season and not have any experience playing-wise,” said Granger. “You just have to wait your time. I took it one day at a time and took the next step forward. It’s just a growing process. I didn’t want to rush anything, me not being ready. I did mature, did learn more, learn what the coaches expect.
“Academically and athletically, I’m becoming stronger, becoming strong-minded, becoming the total package off the field and on the field.”
Addazio said experience is the only thing separating Granger and Coyer.
“He’s physical, he throws the ball well and he’s a physical runner,” said Addazio. “He just has to get the whole component of running the team, leadership of the team, and that comes with experience. He’s working really hard and competing really hard right now.”
Granger admitted it would be a challenge to crack the lineup as Coyer is also a junior. Penn State transfer Kevin Newsome arrives this summer and will also have two years of eligibility remaining.
“It’s a challenge, but the type of competitor I am, I accept competition,” said Granger. “Whatever God has for me is for me. Whatever the situation is, that’s the situation. I just have to be supportive of Chris, and hopefully Chris is supportive of me and we can be successful as a team.”
Granger is a Philadelphia native who played at George Washington High School. He spent two years at Pierce, but only played one – leaving him with three years of eligibility when he arrived at Temple.
He threw for 1,176 yards and 10 touchdowns and ran for 200 yards and five scores in seven games at Pierce. He’s been content with his college choices.
“I grew, matured, learned how to work for what I wanted and how to handle my business (at Pierce), got experience and got me to where I am now,” said Granger. “This is my hometown and I wanted to play for Coach Addazio. He’s a good coach, he expects a lot out of his players and he pushes us to be great, and that’s what I want to be.”
As for the nickname “Juice,” Granger said it was given to him as a baby by one of his cousins.
“I was born with that name, it was like my real name actually, I was just a chunky baby who liked juice,” said Granger. “(Nobody calls me Clinton) except my teachers and my mom when she’s mad at me. For the most part, everybody acknowledges me as Juice.”
He just hopes he’s acknowledged on the football field more on game day this season.