Deon Grant was devastated.
As an NFL rookie, he fractured his left hip in training camp. One doctor told Grant he would never play again. Grant didn't know what to say, so instead he cried.
"My career was over and I hadn't even played a down," said Grant, a Josey High School graduate who plays for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.
Speaking at The Augusta Chronicle and WJBF NewsChannel 6 All-Area Football Banquet on Thursday night, Grant discussed how his recovery from the injury set the tone for a career that has seen him make 128 consecutive starts. One of his messages to the high schoolers in attendance was that they could overcome anything with the right frame of mind.
"I just want to give them hope, that they can overcome any adversary they're facing," Grant said. "They can accomplish anything."
Doctors Hospital, Queensborough National Bank & Trust, Coca-Cola, Circle K and Georgia Lottery sponsored the event honoring 75 area players and three coaches.
Grant presented the Deon Grant Player of the Year Award to Jefferson County quarterback B.J. Bostic, who scored 39 touchdowns and led the Warriors to the state quarterfinals this season. Bostic will play football at Georgia Tech, where he is already attending classes. His parents ordered a special vest patterned with tiny Georgia Tech logos, which he wore with his suit.
"This caught me by surprise," Bostic said. "My heart was just filled with sensational pride. This is the last part of my high school career, and I'm just so proud that God chose me for this award. It's a big honor. I'm just overwhelmed right now."
Bostic, also the Georgia area player of the year, captured the award over Wardlaw Academy quarterback Stephen Balentine and North Augusta quarterback Loranzo Hammonds.
The previous winners of the Deon Grant award both came from Strom Thurmond High: Aramis Hillary, now a University of South Carolina quarterback, and Tra'ves Bush, a defensive back at Navy.
Bostic, who was one of four Jefferson County players honored Thursday, said he is looking forward to representing the area at Georgia Tech.
"There's great talent around here, and coaches need to start paying attention," Bostic said.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPOTTED: Check out photo galleries from Thursday night's all-area football banquet at spotted.augusta.com.