GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – “The back stories of these guys really matter to us because the guys we put in our locker room really do matter. We take that pretty serious,” said Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst at the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Gutekunst and Green Bay’s front office selected 13 new Packers throughout seven rounds of the draft, including the team’s final pick, Grant DuBose.
DuBose was the 256th pick of the draft, and hearing his name called was a culmination of years of hard work. “I didn’t know when the opportunity was going to present itself, but I knew that I wanted to be ready when it did,” said DuBose on a call with Packers media.
The 6-foot-2, 201-pound wide receiver spent his final two years of college playing for UNC Charlotte, where he ranks third all-time for career receiving touchdowns. DuBose became the first 49er offensive skill player to be selected in the draft. He earned All-Conference USA honors both seasons in Charlotte and was invited to the Combine.
But prior to taking the 49ers field by storm, DuBose was an under-recruited high schooler from Montgomery, Alabama. He received just one offer to play at Miles College, a Division II program in his home state. DuBose started as a freshman, playing in 10 games, and even volunteered to help the team elsewhere on the field.
“We were looking for a long snapper and he raised his hand. He said ‘Coach, I did it before.’ Man, he did an awesome job, at long snapper and receiver. Because that’s the kind of kid he was,” said Reginald Ruffin, DuBose former head coach at Miles, and the current Athletic Director at Tuskegee University.
Ruffin called DuBose a “young kid man that needed an opportunity,” and Ruffin understood when his wide receiver announced he’d entered the transfer portal. As DuBose looked to pursue Division I opportunities, COVID-19 canceled Miles’ football season in 2020. So DuBose had to put in work to support himself, and he worked three jobs that year, including at Walmart.
After shifts, DuBose would put in work at the gym and weight room, “somewhere around 10, 10 to 12…it was late once I got to the weight room. But I was just trying to find a way.”
He’d also practice at a local high school in June 2021, where a friend saw him play. This friend happened to be a quarterback on Charlotte’s roster, James Foster. Foster encouraged the 49er coaching staff to give DuBose a chance, and during his tryout, it only took three routes before the team was sold.
Two years later, Grant DuBose has been drafted into the NFL and will begin rookie mini-camp during the first week of May. His former coach reflected on the magnitude.
“Grant got drafted by the Green Bay Packers. He can tell that to his kids for the rest of his life,” said Ruffin.
When asked about the challenges of working three jobs while still dreaming of football, DuBose paused before saying:
“It’s pretty challenging. I knew I had goals in mind and I knew what I wanted. You know in life you got to work for the things that you want and I just always tried to keep that mentality. To get where I wanted to be. And you know I’m standing here today.”