Player Spotlight: Grant Haley
True sophomore Grant Haley may have gone to high school in Georgia, but he remembers where his roots came from. Both of his parents, his mom a pediatrician and his dad the chief of ER at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, earned degrees from Pennsylvania schools. His father attended medical school at rival Pitt, while his mother received her undergraduate degree from Penn State.
It was an interesting road to Penn State for the starting cornerback. He was initially committed to Vanderbilt, but when head coach James Franklin made the switch, so did he.
“When Coach Franklin got the opportunity to come to Penn State, he asked me to come up for a visit,” said Haley, who shares the team lead this season with two interceptions. “I kind of grew up watching Penn State football all the time because (my mom is) such a die-hard fan, so getting a chance to come up here was very special to me and her.”
Last season, Haley served as the team’s primary kick returner, playing in all 13 games, but his first start came in the Pinstripe Bowl. He also recorded an interception against Temple and returned in 30 yards for a touchdown in the 30-13 victory.
In addition, Haley was named honorable mention Big Ten All-Freshman team by BTN.com and set a school record with 32 kickoff returns. He also tallied the second-most return yards in program history with 659.
But, it isn’t all football for the lone Lion out of Georgia.
“I'm a guy that loves school,” said the broadcast journalism major. “Just my family in the background that they came from, school has always been a big, big part of our family. They really drive me academics first, academics first.”
Haley has the numbers to back it up as well. Following the 2015 spring semester Haley had one of the top GPA’s on the team, boasting a 3.40.
“I mean, I don't want to be a doctor because I know how much school that takes,” he said, but it’s clear that he still carries the smarts.
Haley looks to continue to lead the Lion’s secondary after two tough weeks for the normally stable Penn State defense. Through eight games this season he has 18 tackles, 10 solo, and will be key in stopping Illinois’ Geronimo Allison.
“He's a big body guy, said Haley. “He's about 6-4, 200 pounds, and he has good ball skills, as well. I think there is really good timing with him and the quarterback.”
Brandon Pelter is a freshman majoring in broadcasting journalism and finance. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.