SAGINAW, MI — Alex Grace has the numbers and the success to raise plenty of eyebrows.
He hopes it also opens some eyes.
The Swan Valley junior broke the state single-season rushing record this season with 292 carries for 2,952 yards in leading the Vikings to an 11-1 season that ended with a Division 4 quarterfinal loss to Lansing Sexton.
He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, a time that should bring college coaches running. It has brought college coaches, but not necessarily at a sprint.
“It’s kind of frustrating,” Grace said. “But all I can do is keep working, keep improving to keep impressing them.”
Grace has made visits to Indiana, Western Michigan and Michigan State, with interest from Nebraska , Toledo and Akron.
“Right now, for sure, he’s a high-caliber MAC (Mid-American Conference) player,” Swan Valley coach Ken Bourbina said. “If he keeps improving, he’s going to keep moving up as far as recruiting. If he improves as much before next year as he has the past two years, for sure he’s going to be a major college recruit.”
In two years, Grace has gained 5,115 yards, good for 13th on the Michigan career rushing list, tying him with current Central Michigan University tailback Zurlon Tipton.
“I liked Indiana, but I got to meet Western Michigan’s coaches and that was great,” Grace said. “I got to meet Michigan State’s coaches, and that was a great part of that trip. I’m going to make another trip to State.”
Grace is also going to make a more concerted effort to go to more off-season camps to give scouts, coaches and recruiting services a better look. He is scheduled to go to the Adidas Showcase on Sunday, Dec. 1, in Pontiac.
“I went to some camps last year — MSU, Pitt, Indiana, Saginaw Valley (State), Northwood — but I’m going to keep pushing and working hard to get to more,” Grace said. “All I can do is keep working.”
He would also like to play more defense. Grace had 43 tackles, with one interception, a caused fumble and a fumble recovery as a sophomore, but the Vikings didn’t use Grace as much on defense as a junior to keep him fresh for the offense.
He had 10 tackles this season.
“I would like to play more defense,” Grace said. “I think I can do more. I want to be out there, especially in big games at big moments, like the Sexton game.”
Grace received some exposure as part of the Detroit Lions team that won the NFL 7-on-7 national championship during the summer, playing with Brian Cole of Heritage, Kyle Guster of Freeland and Keyon Addison of Saginaw High.
But Grace played tailback and linebacker during the tournament, two positions that are less important in 7-on-7 football.
““He’s got the speed, he’s got the moves and he’s got the size (6-1, 205),” Bourbina said. “And you can’t argue about his production.”