Grant Calcaterra’s journey has been an interesting one. The former four star recruit landed in Norman, Oklahoma originally and quickly became one of the best tight ends in college football. Injuries derailed his career and he eventually retired. But the itch to get back on the field got to him, and he decided to hit the transfer portal which landed him at Auburn. When Gus Malzahn was fired, Calcaterra went searching for a new home. Sonny Dykes and the SMU Mustangs came calling, putting him in an offense that has explosive potential. How does Calcaterra fit in this offense? As long as he’s healthy, he should bring SMU an upgrade in their passing attach, which has terrifying potential.
SMU, despite the losses of quarterback Shane Buechele and tight end Kylen Granson, still wasn’t in need of playmakers on the outside. Speedster Danny Gray and super soph Rashee Rice returned to give the new quarterback quality option in the passing attack. Running back Ulysses Bentley IV is also back after nearly eclipsing 1,000 yards in his freshman season. TJ McDaniel is also set to return after a season ending injury. Dykes got more good news when explosive receiver Reggie Roberson (another player lost to injury early in the season) announced he’d return to school. So where does Calcaterra fit in this equation?
CeeDee Lamb is going to draw a lot of attention from Houston's secondary, but Grant Calcaterra is just as dangerous. pic.twitter.com/7P67OxbTnv— Joe Broback (@joebroback) August 8, 2019
Calcaterra will see a familiar face when he gets to campus. Another Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai announced he’d join the Mustangs this offseason, and that provides them both with some familiarity. Mordecai must hold off four star freshman Preston Stone for the starting job, and Calcaterra needs to avoid injuries, but they could produce a lethal combination.
SMU has the speed on the outside with guys like Gray, Rice, and Roberson back. Calcaterra first and foremost gives them a player with a wide catch radius, which helps the offense overall, but more importantly in third down and red zone situations. He’s an athletic tight end capable of making difficult catches, and quarterbacks typically have to get the ball in his general area for him to come down with the pass. Granson was a reliable tight end for the Mustangs, but Calcaterra’s ceiling is much higher. Both players are similar in size, but it’s evident that Calcaterra is the longer player between the two, which opens up a few more opportunities.
He fits perfectly in Dykes’ system because they’ll treat him as more of a wide receiver than a tight end. Defenses have to decide if they want to put a defensive back on him and risk losing the physicality battle or put a linebacker on him and accept that they might get burned deep. Given the talent we’ve already mentioned, double teams aren’t an option because that exposes them to other deep threats. Calcaterra brings a nice blend of speed and athleticism which puts the defense out of position before the play even begins.
It’s only one year, but the excitement surrounding Calcaterra’s arrival makes things more interesting. He joins an offense that’s already full of explosive playmakers, but he can elevate this group as well. SMU, assuming Mordecai hits the ground running, will be one of the toughest teams to stop offensively. Which isn’t a new statement, but it takes on a new meaning with the talent they have back in 2021. Calcaterra’s a perfect fit in this offense, and it will be exciting to see where he can take the Mustangs with his talent.