November 8, 2017 9:19:34 PM
STARKVILLE -- Corbin Grantham was all set to be a starting safety for the reigning state championship Trinity High School football team in Louisville, Kentucky. After a freshman year which saw him rise from the junior varsity team to the varsity squad's bench, departing seniors paved the way for Grantham to take a spot.
Then his father, Todd, took the defensive coordinator job at Mississippi State. The process would start all over again at Starkville High School, where he would enter behind a group of talented seniors and an even bigger group of possibly more talented juniors.
Corbin never blinked.
"That's the thing I'm most proud of: taking the attitude of this opportunity, coming here, embracing it and working to earn a spot, and he did that," Todd Grantham said.
Corbin Grantham earned that starting spot in Week 5 at Meridian -- while his father listened on the radio from MSU's team hotel the night before it played LSU -- and has done nothing but impress since. He's a pivotal part of the Starkville (10-2, 6-1) defense as it begins the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 6A playoffs 7 p.m. Friday night against Southaven (5-6, 4-3).
"The main thing was consistency," Starkville defensive coordinator Kevie Thompson said. "Once the opportunity presented itself, he was consistent in what he did. He's one of those kids that's never going to be out of position.
"You can tell he's a coach's kid. Football, it just comes natural to him."
That's what excited Starkville head coach Chris Jones about Corbin coming to Starkville; his only reservation was if a sophomore's athleticism would be where it needs to be to play well enough to start. Corban Grantham intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown in the season opener against Noxubee County and, in the weeks that followed, put that worry to rest.
Now Starkville gets to benefit from the Grantham family's presence for three years -- at least that's the plan.
When Todd Grantham was introduced as MSU's defensive coordinator in February, he eased the worries of a MSU fan base reeling from three defensive coordinators in as many years with one wish: he wanted Corbin to graduate from Starkville High. It's helped Corbin truly settle into the Yellow Jacket program and attack the opening when it came.
"It helped me knowing this is going to be my team for the next few years," he said.
He still gets some form of help from his father: when Todd is unable to go to games, he and Corbin will watch them together and talk through them. Todd Grantham says he doesn't coach Corbin through film study the way he does his MSU players, he watches to make sure the effort and, "respect for the game," are there.
When Todd Grantham watches his son, he knows he's watching a player that has passion for the game -- even if he doesn't show it like his father does.
Todd Grantham has become known for a fiery sideline demeanor, to which Corbin could not be more opposite. Take last week's goal line stand against Clinton that nearly put the game out of reach: coaches and teammates are jumping over each other and celebrating wildly, and Corbin Grantham is simply running off the field. He's clearly excited, but he's not pumping his fist like almost everyone else on the field.
Todd Grantham jokes Corbin got his cool demeanor from his mother, Paige, and his athletic ability from him. Either way, Corbin Grantham is fine leaving the theatrics to everyone else.
"I'm just a calm person, I guess," he said. "I just focus on the play."
When he sees his father do it, "I just laugh. I'll let my coaches do all that."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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