Former OU star, NFL draft prospect Grant Calcaterra returning to football

Rob Rang

As the COVID-19 pandemic has made opt-outs the dominant story in college football this summer, one former star is choosing to re-enter the game. 

Grant Calcaterra, who caught nine touchdowns in just 20 games for the Oklahoma Sooners over the past three seasons announced via his Twitter account Saturday that he was opting back in to college football after briefly retiring last year due to a series of concussions.

 As the 6-4, 233 pound tight end notes, however, when he returns to action it will not be with his beloved Oklahoma Sooners with Calcaterra entering the transfer portal. 

Anyone close to the OU program knows that Calcaterra was a highly respected member of their team. As noted by SI's own John E. Hoover of AllSooners.com, flanked by his parents, Calcaterra participated in Senior Night festivities last November and led the Sooners onto the field in street clothes. 

The same passion that is obvious in the video above is among the reasons why scouts for college and NFL teams across the landscape will be very interested in his return. 

While not quite as big as current Baltimore Ravens' Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews (6-5, 255), Calcaterra showed a similar blend of agility, smooth acceleration and soft hands in replacing him as the featured seam threat in Oklahoma's offense the past few years - when injuries allowed him to play. 

At his size, Calcaterra is more of an H-back or "move" tight end rather than a traditional in-line blocker type, similar to another ultra-productive NFL tight end who, unfortunately, has also struggled with concussions - new San Francisco 49ers' pickup Jordan Reed. 

Adding to Calcaterra's blend of size and athleticism is the fact that he's a crafty route-runner with terrific body control to adjust to the ball. His ability to make difficult receptions in traffic is one of the reasons why he was so valued in Oklahoma's system, resulting in nearly a quarter of his 41 career grabs (for 637 yards) going for touchdowns.  

Calcaterra has plenty of highlight-reel worthy plays on tape. His biggest moment was a one-handed touchdown grab amid tight coverage in the final two minutes of the 2018 Big 12 title game against hated rival Texas, a play that perfectly encapsulates Calcaterra's talent and competitiveness. 

For all of Calcaterra's ability, teams will, of course, require a thorough medical evaluation before he is allowed back. That process is significantly more complicated in today's pandemic with nearly half of the FBS teams already announcing plans to scrap their fall seasons. 

Should Calcaterra be unable to latch on with a college team this fall, he has already shown enough to pique the interest of NFL scouts and almost surely would draw an invitation to the 2021 Scouting Combine, even though the 2021 tight end class is already loaded with talent. 

 

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