As he scouted Jordan Grier during the recruiting process, Indiana head coach Tom Allen began to think about the possibilities.
In Grier, a 6-foot, 193-pound defensive back from Georgia, Allen saw a prospect who could fit multiple positions inside IU’s secondary. He saw a defender with a sturdy frame, intriguing quickness and good hands. In other words, Allen saw exactly the kind of player he wants in his defensive backfield.
Now, Grier is on campus preparing for his first season inside Indiana’s program. Although he appears set to start his career working as a safety, he could move around the back end of IU’s defense over time. And with that versatility in mind, Allen is excited about the freshman’s potential to serve a valuable purpose in the years to come.
“We have a model and are looking for a certain body type, a certain skill set in each one of our defensive back positions,” Allen said on signing day. “The ability to play both corner and safety is a huge asset. Speed is huge. We are going to play man coverage, we are going to play some zone coverage, so we are trying to find guys that have that flexibility to do multiple things. We are really excited about Jordan, his athleticism and his ability to be around the football.”
Grier credits safeties Devon Matthews, Raheem Layne and Bryson Bonds for bringing him along this summer, helping him learn the playbook and breaking down the roles and obligations of each position inside the IU secondary. That help is going a long way toward making him feel comfortable entering his first fall camp, he says.
Comfort is important, particularly because Grier committed to IU sight unseen. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grier was unable to visit before making his commitment last July. Certainly, a tour of campus would have been nice to have, but Grier says the main reason he wanted to be a Hoosier had nothing to do with the program’s location, its conference or its facility.
It was Allen who made the difference.
“Coming into IU, I didn’t know anything about IU,” Grier told reporters earlier this month. “I had never been to Indiana before. Never been to Bloomington. It was a big jump, a big leap taking on Coach Allen’s word and believing what he was saying. Everybody wants to play for a guy like Coach Allen. Coach Allen has everything that I’m looking for in a college coach.”
As he’s gotten to know his new surroundings, Grier has made a second home of the weight room. Coupled with a tailored nutritional plan, his training has allowed him to add 20 pounds to his frame in the short time he’s been in Bloomington. It’s all part of a transformational summer for an 18-year-old who’s eager to make a mark wherever he’s needed inside the defense.
“From my standpoint, I believe I can play anywhere in the secondary,” Grier said. “I’m ready to compete anywhere at any given moment. I feel like I’m fundamentally sound. I can cover, I can play man-to-man, I can play zone. Right now, my biggest thing is getting in the playbook and working on my technique.”