3DownNation top 100 CFL players: No. 79 RET Janarion Grant, Free Agent

Photo courtesy: CFL

Is it really fair to claim that someone is one of the CFL’s top 100 players if they’ve only dressed for 14 games?

Photo courtesy: CFL

I wouldn’t blame anyone for suggesting it’s not. Then again, it’s not often that a player returns two punts for touchdowns in the first 30 minutes of their first career game.

Janarion Grant made his CFL debut with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on August 8, 2019. He brought a punt back for a 76-yard score seven minutes into the game, beating a well-respected Calgary special teams unit.

The Stampeders’ cover team never appeared out of position. Grant was contained well, but he eluded Fraser Sopik before exploding through the hole with speed.

His second return touchdown was the opposite. Grant caught the ball near the right hash-mark before turning left, breaking contain and scoring from 81 yards out. Two touchdowns in under a half of football.

Winnipeg beat Calgary 26-24 despite being outplayed on offence and defence. Grant was the difference, totaling 306 yards on eleven returns.

Dominating on special teams was nothing new for the Trilby, Florida native. He remains arguably the best returner in the history of Rutgers University with 167 returns for 3,445 yards and eight touchdowns.

Grant also contributed on offence in college, recording 1,406 yards from scrimmage and six scores on 135 touches. He was second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference as a true freshman and second-team All-Big Ten as a junior.

The five-foot-ten, 173-pounder went unselected in the 2018 NFL draft but was quickly signed by the Baltimore Ravens. He made the team’s active roster and appeared in the first two games of the season, recording a 51-yard punt return against Buffalo. Grant also fumbled in both games, which didn’t impress the coaching staff. He was released and spent the rest of the season awaiting his next opportunity.

Grant was in training camp with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2019 and spent time on the practice roster in June. He joined the Blue Bombers following his release and went on to enjoy an excellent year following his spectacular debut.

He brought a punt back for a 72-yard touchdown against Saskatchewan in the Banjo Bowl and recorded returns of 50-plus yards against B.C., Montreal, Calgary (twice).

Grant also almost broke a punt return for a touchdown in the Grey Cup.

His time in the CFL was short, but there’s no denying his impact. Janarion Grant quickly established himself as the best returner in the league in many special teams circles.

“Retirement has brought many welcome changes,” Rob Maver recently told 3DownNation. “One of them is no longer punting to Janarion Grant.”

Grant was under contract for the 2020 season, but opted out to pursue the NFL. He had a workout with the Miami Dolphins but didn’t sign a contract with the team. He remains a free agent on both sides of the border.


3DownNation is unveiling its list of the top 100 active CFL players. To read the criteria for player eligibility, click here. The list to date can be found below.

80. DE Avery Ellis, Ottawa Redblacks
81. DE Cordarro Law, Calgary Stampeders
82. DB Brandon Alexander, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
83. OL Jermarcus Hardrick, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
84. DB Branden Dozier, Free Agent
85. SAM Otha Foster, Saskatchewan Roughriders
86. DB Antoine Pruneau, Ottawa Redblacks
87. RB John White, B.C. Lions
88. LB Avery Williams, Ottawa Redblacks
89. LB Jovan Santos-Knox, Free Agent
90. DB Richard Leonard, Calgary Stampeders
91. REC Armanti Edwards, Edmonton Football Team
92. RB C.J. Gable, Free Agent
93. DT Mike Rose, Calgary Stampeders
94. REC S.J. Green, Free Agent
95. DB Mike Edem, Saskatchewan Roughriders
96. DE John Bowman, Montreal Alouettes
97. DB Taylor Loffler, Montreal Alouettes
98. QB Nick Arbuckle, Ottawa Redblacks
99. ST Mike Miller, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
100. DE Chris Casher, B.C. Lions

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.