One of the most intriguing UDFA signings for the New York Giants this offseason was Penn State’s Grant Haley. When I say intriguing, I mean that Haley has the potential to make the roster and get valuable time playing as a cornerback, special teams and/or returner for the Giants.
Haley was born in Michigan, but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. Son of Leon Haley Jr. and Carla Neal-Haley, Grant was born into a very smart family. His parents attended Brown and Penn State and both of them were students at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.
With that all being say, you can say that education has always been the number one priority in the Haley family. Even when Grant went to Penn State to play football, his dad, Leon Haley Sr., would preach to him about getting this degree because that is something he will need after football regardless of what happens. Oh, and his father is also the Dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine. Forget to mention that gem.
During high school, The Lovett School, Grant was an excellent student and even earned a bronze medal at the National Latin Exam. Not going to lie, I’d say that’s pretty impressive. While at Penn State, Haley remained an excellent student. Throughout his four years, 2014-2017, Grant would frequent the Dean’s List, Academic All-Big Ten, CoSIDA Academic All-District and Midseason All-American honors from The All-Athletic and USA Today.
Before being a fine student athlete at Penn State, Haley was not always about football. Grant grew up playing soccer and baseball. His mother did not want Grant playing football due to the potential injuries that come along with playing the sport — rightfully so. However, Grant’s grandfather was a high school football coach and was basically the spark that ignited Grant beginning to play football during the 7th grade. This was all done with the consent of his mother, of course.
Once Haley took to the gridiron, everything fell into place. It was basically like he has been playing football his entire life. When he began to play in high school, Haley played running back and cornerback and was a two-time team captain.
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During his senior year, Grant rushed for more than 1,500 yards with 27 touchdowns while also adding six interceptions at cornerback. Haley was named to MaxPreps second-team Small School All-American. That same season he led his team to the Georgia Class AA State Championship and also was named the Associated Press Georgia Class 2A Offensive Player of the Year.
Throughout high school, Grant was a four year letterman for football, while also lettering four times in baseball, twice in basketball and twice in track and field. Yeah, I’d say this kid is athletic.
After high school, Grant committed to Vanderbilt, but when Coach James Franklin decided to depart for Penn State, Haley came along for the ride.
As for his football career for the Nittany Lions, Grant saw plenty of playing time from the very beginning. As a true freshman, Haley appeared in all 13 games both on defense and special teams. He got his first start in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl game at Yankee Stadium as a the kicker returner.
In his sophomore year, he started 11 games after missing two due to injury. He still managed to log 27 solo tackles and two interceptions. Junior year, 23 solo tackles and again 27 tackles his senior season with 2 interceptions.
However, Grant’s biggest accomplishment at Penn State came in his junior year against Ohio State. There was a white out and there were fireworks courtesy of Grant Haley. 4 minutes and 39 seconds to go in regulation, Ohio State is attempting a field goal, up 21-17. The kick barely went up in the air before it was blocked by Marcus Allen and recovered by the man himself, Grant Haley, who returned it for a touchdown. Beaver Stadium was in an absolute frenzy.
With that play, Grant became the first player in Penn State football history to return a blocked field goal for a touchdown. Penn State would go onto upset the number two team in the country thanks to Marcus Allen and Grant Haley.
I remember that play like it was yesterday. What a rush. I would have gave anything to be at that game instead of watching the game on my phone at some stupid haunted house in West Virginia, shaking my head, I know. Anyways, after that game, Marcus Allen and Grant Haley were common names around University Park.
Now, Grant Haley is trying to become the newest member of the New York Giants. Going undrafted only threw gas on the fire for Haley. Even more gas for the fire, one of his weaknesses — his build. He’s not that tall for a corner, 5’9”, but has quick feet, is an excellent coverage reader, and basically was a lockdown corner at Penn State. His senior season at Penn State, he did not allow a touchdown and only allowed four total his entire college career while being targeted 168 times. Ain’t nobody throwing his way.
I was so excited that the Giants were able to sign him because I know what he’s capable of. I personally believe he can be the next DRC for the Giants. I know he’s small, but he can certainly play slot corner better than whoever the Giants currently have slated to play there. He killed it during the rookie minicamp and to be honest, i wouldn’t be writing this if the Giants did not draft Saquon Barkley, I bet he would have signed somewhere else. Now, those two Penn State roommates show up together to the facilities first and are the last to leave. Good first impressions.
Day one of the rookie minicamp, one scout reported on Haley, stating: “Might be the most explosive/athletic of all the NYG corners day one. Has a knack for sticking to the hip pocket of slot receivers.” This is a fantastic sign because since losing DRC, the Giants are in need of a good young slot corner. Can Haley be the guy? Let’s not get over our heads, but things are looking pretty good for this UDFA. Can he be a Dave Gettleman draft find? Only time will tell, but I love what I am hearing about Grant Haley.
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