- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Doran Grant obviously could only fill one spot left open by injury, but that didn't stop him from trying to replace the production of all three missing Ohio State starters.
Down a defensive end, the sophomore chased down a quarterback, ushered him to the sideline and picked up his first career sack.
Without one first-team safety, Grant chipped in to force a fumble with the other normal starter there and then scooped it up for a critical recovery that led directly to a touchdown on offense.
And then there was his natural position in a 29-15 win over UAB on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. With Bradley Roby on the shelf with a shoulder injury, Grant made the most of the extended playing time at cornerback by capping his breakout performance and the victory with an interception that sealed them both.
"I think I did OK, came in and did what I had to do," Grant said. "I just wanted to help the team any way I could.
"Honestly, I was more excited than nervous. I mean, I was a little nervous, but I was more excited to be a part of it. I felt like I was a part of the team."
Grant was certainly a major part of it with his contributions all over the field, stuffing the stats sheet with those turnovers and adding seven tackles that Ohio State clearly needed as it closed out its nonconference schedule.
The Buckeyes have had their defensive depth tested severely early in the season, and they were particularly stretched thin in the secondary with Roby's shoulder injury and safety C.J. Barnett's sprained ankle.
When completely healthy, Ohio State hasn't been in position to throw a lot of backups into live action to see how many guys might really be able to handle the load in the back end. But with really no other choice against the Blazers, they found out plenty about Grant.
"Hopefully this will build confidence for him and he'll continue to get better and play better," co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said. "I think we had a lot of confidence putting him in the game. He's had good weeks of practice, we just haven't had many opportunities to throw a second-team guy in the game.
"This week gave us an opportunity to see if we had some depth at that position, and I think we do now."
That probably doesn't mean the Buckeyes will be scrambling the starting rotation when Roby returns, particularly because Travis Howard has also shown a knack for forcing turnovers at the other spot through the first few games.
But at a minimum, Grant has added some extra security to the position as the level of competition improves with a trip to Michigan State looming to open Big Ten play on Saturday. And he proved he doesn't need much advance notice to be ready.
"I found out probably midweek, Wednesday," Grant said. "That really didn't affect me. I just prepared the same way I always did. ... You've just got to earn your keep. You have to earn your playing time, get respect from the older guys and the coaches, all the players, do what you have to do.
"You've got to make plays."
When they had to have them, Grant made enough plays for several Buckeyes.
Reserve cornerback Doran Grant was a major part of Saturday's victory over UAB with his contributions all over the field, stuffing the stats sheet as Ohio State closed out its nonconference schedule.