Even though his senior soccer season hasn’t gone according to plan, South Aiken’s Jon Granger has taken steps recently to give himself a chance to play in the area again by signing to join the team at USC Aiken.
Granger, who tore his meniscus and ACL in December, said that his familiarity with Pacer head coach Ike Ofoje – whose daughter, Avery, is on the T-Bred girls’ team – was a deciding factor in choosing USCA over South Carolina, Lander and Anderson.
“I’ve known Coach Ike for a very long time ... and we’ve had a pretty good relationship over the years,” Granger said.
The defensive midfielder said that his recovery should be complete in a month or so, which will allow him to be back in action for the Pacers in the fall. He said Ofoje has discussed the potential for Granger to step in and contribute right away.
“He’s talked to me about how my mindset is and how I’m ready for anything,” he said.
Being ready for anything has included some unfortunate circumstances this season. Because of his injury, Granger hasn’t been able to play at all for his high school team and first-year head coach Dave Myers.
“First, it hurt when I knew he wasn’t going to be there,” Myers said, before noting a role Granger had filled for the team. “You want somebody there who has a knowledge of the game.”
As a result, Granger has served as a student coach for the T-Breds. Myers said he’s asked his injured senior about everything from personnel and strategy to scouting reports on opposing players, many of whom Granger has played against either in school competition or club play for Augusta Arsenal.
While Granger has been willing to help any way he can, that doesn’t mean he’s been excited about his non-playing role.
“It’s been terrible,” Granger said. “All I’ve wanted to do the whole time is get on the field and help my team out.”
The hurdle has yielded positive results off the field in terms of an intended major. Through his current rehabilitation and past ankle injuries, Granger has become familiar enough with the process that he’s decided to pursue a degree in sports medicine.
“I’ve had multiple injuries over my high school career,” he said. “I’ve known the people at Sports Plus, and they’re pretty cool.”
When Granger is ready to return to the field, he’ll bring an endurance level that Myers said is rare to go along with superior vision and defensive skills. That combination and a “no-quit attitude” inspired high praise from the coach.
“His ability to be able to run 90 minutes is unparalleled,” Myers said. “He’s the most underrated player in the state of South Carolina, in my mind.”
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.