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ISSUE 121 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/2/2008

Redskins call Gant

By Emily Koester
News Editor

Friday, May 2, 2008

Last week, Horace Gant '08 received an offer that is unprecedented for a St. Olaf athlete: an opportunity to go pro as a free agent for the Washington Redskins. The Redskins' wide receiver coach Stan Hixon called Gant on Sunday to offer him a three-year contract.

"I was really excited," said Gant, who will leave Thursday for a weekend rookie camp with the Redskins.

This spring, Gant considered his potential with several professional teams, including the Buffalo Bills and the Green Bay Packers. Hixon and Gant's agent agreed that the Redskins would be the best fit.

Gant began seriously pursuing a career in professional football last year through the encouragement of St. Olaf's former football coach Chris Meidt, who now works for the Redskins in an offensive assistant capacity.

"Meidt told me I had an opportunity as motivation to work hard," Gant said. Gant soon after got an agent and played at the University of Minnesota's Pro Day, where he ranked as high as 150 for receivers. During his time at St. Olaf, Gant left his mark, holding several records with receptions (185), receiving yards (3,061) and receiving touchdowns (27). During his final season at St. Olaf, he finished with 65 receptions for 1,121 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Additionally, Gant is the first St. Olaf student to play in the Aztec Bowl, an NCAA-sanctioned bowl game that is held annually by Divion III schools against a team made of Mexican All-Stars. Gant made three receptions for 42 yards in the United States' win over Mexico.

Despite a successful playing history, however, Gant still underwent intensive preparation for the NFL that included footwork drills, endurance training, pliometrics and sprint training.

"I've been training with Coach Stern since March," Gant said. It's the toughest training I've ever been through."

Gant will face more intensive work-outs during his rookie camp this weekend.

"It's basically getting acquainted with how the NFL works," Gant said. The weekend will include learning formations and plays, running routes and getting used to the speed of practice in the NFL. He will be joining twelve other undrafted free agents, who will train with him at the camp this weekend.

Gant only has to miss two classes for the minicamp and will return after this weekend to finish his senior year. In July he will join the Redskins again to begin the regular season.

Gant believes that it was Meidt who initially recommended him to Hixon. Hixon came down to work with Gant personally one Tuesday this spring and evaluate his talent. "I'm very happy about going to the Redskins," said Gant, "especially with having Coach Meidt there; he's one of the best coaches I've ever had."

He added that "all of my teammates contributed to my success, especially [quarterbacks] Matt Penz and Jason Wilsey."

There is no guarantee that the contract will last its full duration. "It's a three-year thing, but you can be cut at any time," Gant said. Gant, however, is hopeful about the contract and plans on playing for years to come.

"I hope to play football as long as my body will allow me to play," he said. "I'll work as hard as I can for as long as I can."

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