FOOTBALL: Grant signs to play at Mars Hill University

by Mar 24, 2024SPORTS di-ne-lv-di-yi0 comments

Mato Grant, seated center, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a senior at Cherokee High School, signed a letter of intent on Friday, March 22 to play football this fall at Mars Hill University. He is shown with his mother, Natalie Grant, seated left, and father, Zahay Grant, seated right, and siblings (standing) Koa and Iya. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)



One Feather Asst. Editor


CHEROKEE, N.C. – Another member of the Cherokee Braves football team is headed to play at the next level.  Mato Grant, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and a senior at Cherokee High School (CHS), signed a letter of intent on Friday, March 22, 2024 to play football this fall at Mars Hill University.

He told the crowd at Friday’s signing, “I want to thank everybody for being here and thank everybody for supporting me through all these years playing football. I want to thank my coaches – Coach Hawkins, Coach Gator, Maney, Barker, and Coach Westbrook. Thank you all for pushing me.”

“I’m excited. I’m really excited for it.”

Grant played in the 2023 Indigenous Bowl on Dec. 21, 2023 in San Jacinto, Calif., and he also played in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on Jan. 29, 2024 in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium.

Grant scores a touchdown in the first half of an away game against the Cosby (Tenn.) Eagles on Aug. 25, 2023.

Prior to the signing, Craig Barker, CHS assistant principal, said, “Today is a very special day for us at Cherokee High School. We’ve got one of the finest young men I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching here today, Mato Grant, signing with Mars Hill University.”

“He’s a fine young man. He has a great support system…this is probably the biggest crowd we’ve ever had for a signing. That’s a testimony to you all and the support you’ve provided for him. Mato is a top-notch student. He’s a hard worker. I’m a firm believer in ‘you always get what you deserve’ and ‘you get what you work for’. He’s put the work in, the time in.”

Tim Hawkins, CHS head football coach, said, “Mato has got a lot of skill at what he does. He’s got good size. He runs well. He’s strong in the weight room. He’s very physical on the football field, never afraid of contact. I’ve never one time had a teacher call me about any complaints with Mato. Never.”

“Here’s the two things, to me, as I’ve thought about Mato and this day that stand out, that set Mato to where he’s at today. One, he’s a great teammate. I’ve never heard a player on our team, and I’ve been here as an assistant and as a head coach, come and say anything negative about Mato. Never…all of his teammates, if they were to be asked, I guarantee would have nothing but good things to say about Mato because he’s a great teammate.”

He added, “Mato is a great team player. What I mean by that is, as a coach, – and all these coaches would say the same thing if they were talking – whatever you need for Mato to do, he’ll do it…that was always his attitude. I know Mato is like all of us. He’s got favorite positions that he would like to play, but he will do whatever you ask him to do. So, those two things for me, as a coach personally, stand out about Mato.”