Gran came to UC after three seasons at Florida State, where he served as associate head coach, running backs coach and special teams coordinator, helping lead the Seminoles to their first ACC Championship since 2005, first 11-win season since 2000 and ninth Orange Bowl appearance in 2012.
The 27-year coaching veteran had the most prolific offense in school history in 2013, as the Bearcats led the American Athletic Conference in total offense (472.1) and rushing offense (168.3) with the offense totaling a school-record 6,137 yards.
OT Eric Lefeld, TE Blake Annen and RB/RS Ralph David Abernathy IV were First-Team All-AAC selections while OG Sam Longo and WR Anthony McClung were second-team honorees.
Gran’s 27 seasons in the college ranks includes stops from coast-to-coast. It began at his alma mater Cal Lutheran, where he played four seasons as a wide receiver. He spent 15 seasons as a running backs coach and special teams coordinator in the SEC, including 10 years at Auburn, followed by stops at Tennessee and Florida State before rejoining Tommy Tuberville’s staff in 2013. Gran previously coached with Tuberville at Miami (1990-91), Ole Miss (1995-98) and Auburn (1999-2008).
He has also established himself as one of the nation’s top recruiters. He has spent the better part of two decades recruiting Miami and greater South Florida as his primary territory. He helped Florida State attract the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2011 and was named one of ESPN.com’s Top 25 Recruiters of the Year in 2011.
The 2012 season was one of the best ever for Gran’s special teams’ pupils. FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins set the NCAA career record for scoring by a kicker and was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award for the second-straight year in addition to numerous All-America honors and First Team All-ACC accolades. Hopkins set the NCAA career scoring record for kickers (466 points), as well as establishing NCAA, ACC and FSU records with 88 career field goals.
The Noles’ punt return and kickoff return units were arguably the most dynamic in the country, as each ranked second in the ACC and No. 7 and No. 17 in nation, respectively. Rashad Greene scored two touchdowns on punt returns and ranked second in the country with a 15.35 punt return average, while Tyler Hunter also had a punt return score. On kickoff returns, Lamarcus Joyner and Karlos Wiliams combined to average 24.6 yards per return.
Under Gran’s direction, FSU’s stable of running backs also had one of the most prolific seasons in the country and in school history, averaging 203 rushing yards per game and tallying 2,639 yards and an FSU-record 37 touchdowns on the ground in 2012.
The Seminoles rushed for over 200 yards seven times, including a 385-yard performance versus Wake Forest, and had three different running backs rush for over 500 yards in Chris Thompson (687 yards, five touchdowns), Devonta Freeman (630 yards, eight touchdowns) and James Wilder, Jr. (583 yards, 13 touchdowns). Thompson, who played in eight games before suffering a season-ending knee injury, was named Second Team All-ACC and captured the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award given to the conference’s “most courageous” player.
Florida State boasted the nation’s second-best special teams unit in 2011 based on the Football Outsiders Efficiency Ratings. Shawn Powell became FSU’s first consensus All-American punter and the school’s all-time leader in multiple punting categories as a three-year starter. Powell led the Football Bowl Subdivision with a 47-yard overall average and the Seminoles ranked second nationally in net punting (41.3). Hopkins was named one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award and Gran’s return game featured some of the most electrifying players in Greg Reid, Joyner and Williams. Reid was one of the nation’s most dangerous punt return specialists in the ACC, averaging 10.7 yards per return and scoring two touchdowns during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
In 2011, Gran’s running back corps played behind a banged up offensive line bringing down the group’s production from the 2010 season. However, Gran still produced one of the top freshman running backs in FSU history as Freeman ran for 579 yards - the fifth best single season total by an FSU freshman. Freeman also led the team with eight rushing touchdowns.
Gran helped develop Florida State’s running game into one of the strongest in the ACC in his first season in Tallahassee in 2010. The Seminoles averaged nearly 5.0 yards per carry and ranked third in the league in rushing touchdowns with 27. The Seminoles ranked fourth in the league in scoring as compared to sixth the year before Gran’s arrival. In 2010, three Seminole running backs gained more than 400 yards rushing on the ground led by FSU’s leading rusher Thompson, who gained 845 yards. It was only the sixth time in FSU history that a trio gained more than 400 yards in a season. FSU ran for more than 200 yards five times as a team including a 298-yard performance against in-state rival Miami which capped off a string of four consecutive 200-yard rushing games – BYU (278), Wake Forest (201), Virginia (256) and Miami (298). FSU ran for 218 yards in the Chick-fil-A bowl win over SEC East Champion South Carolina. Gran has a strong record for developing backfield talent. During his 14 seasons as the assistant to Tommy Tuberville at Ole Miss and Auburn, he sent eight running backs to the NFL, including former Tigers Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Rudi Johnson, Brandon Jacobs, Heath Evans and Kenny Irons. They were preceded by former Rebels Deuce McCallister and John Avery.
Tennessee’s Mario Hardesty (1,345 yards) added his name to the lengthy list of 1,000-yard rushers Gran has worked with over the course of his career in ‘09. Hardesty, who did not fumble on 282 carries from scrimmage in 2009, was a second-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2010. He was selected one slot after Auburn’s Ben Tate (Houston Texans), whom Gran coached in 2008.
Gran’s tenure as a special teams coach included oversight of Auburn kicker John Vaughn, who was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2006. With his hands-on approach in all facets of special teams play, Gran is widely regarded as one of the most meticulous in tutoring the game’s critical “third phase.”
Gran has four daughters, Bently, Dillan, Sydney and Lucy Grace.
He is deeply involved in the community for a cause that has changed his life and continues to impact others. The Sydney Gran Foundation is a charity designed to support children’s hospitals and other families whose children are facing serious illness. Sydney, the third of the Gran’s four daughters, was born with the rare disease called Holoprosnecephaly. She passed away just shy of her sixth birthday in 2005. Additional information is available at www.sydneygranfoundation.org.