Player Spotlight: Grant Haley
If you are a fan of Penn State football, chances are you have heard the name Grant Haley.
The senior cornerback from Atlanta has become one of the most important pieces of Penn State’s imposing defense, and has quickly established himself as one of the true leaders of the team.
Haley, who was a multisport athlete in high school, was originally committed to play for Vanderbilt but decided to follow coach James Franklin to Penn State. The decision turned out to be a good one, as he played in 13 games his true freshman season. During his first couple seasons, Haley saw most of his time as a kick returner, and currently holds the honor of having the third most kick return yards in school history.
However, while his numbers may be flashy, Haley himself is certainly not.
The mild-mannered and quiet defensive stud is not the type to brag about his success. This is most likely a product of his strict upbringing. Grant is the son of Leon and Carla Haley, two very successful doctors. Leon, who attended the University of Pittsburgh, was the chief of emergency medicine at a hospital in Atlanta. He currently serves as the dean of the college of medicine at the University of Florida.
His mother also runs her own practice after getting her undergraduate degree from Penn State. Grant has gone on record as saying that because of this, he grew up watching and loving Nittany Lion football. Haley has also said that his parents’ high expectations for him forced him to be more dedicated to academics. Deciding not to follow in his parents’ footsteps, Grant will graduate this year with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in advertising and public relations. Throughout his time at Penn State, Haley has also consistently held one of the highest GPAs on his team.
But if there is one thing Grant Haley is known for, it is his play against Ohio State during his junior season.
Despite starting 11 out of 12 games that season, it was Penn State’s white out game against No. 2-ranked Ohio state where Haley immortalized himself. With the Nittany Lions down two touchdowns to the Buckeyes at the start of the fourth quarter, Ohio state looked to kick a field goal that would look to put the game out of reach for Penn State. However, after the attempt was blocked by safety Marcus Allen, Haley scooped up the loose football and took it back for a touchdown, becoming the first person in school history to do so. The iconic play paved the way for an incredible comeback and upset, and the Penn State football team has never looked back.
Fast forward to now, and Grant, who was named a team captain at the beginning of the year, has started all seven games for Penn State. So far, he has managed to accumulate his first career sack, force a fumble as well as a recover another one, two interceptions and 19 total tackles.
For all his success, Haley has been the recipient of a number of awards. He has been named to the Pro Football Focus Big Ten Team of the Week three times this year, a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe award, as well as earning a Midseason All-America honors from the All-American and USA Today.
Haley looks to finish out his senior season strong, and with his team being held as one of the best in the country, he should continue to have success with honor both on and off the field. Just like the true Penn Stater he is.
Jason Marcus is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.