Tampa Bay Buccaneers make Houston's Grant Stuard draft's Mr. Irrelevant

Tampa Bay Buccaneers make Houston's Grant Stuard draft's Mr. Irrelevant

The sole NFL hat that he owned was a classic Tampa Bay Buccaneers hat his dad brought over from Spring, Texas, on Saturday.

"He said something told him to catch a hat because he is a hat guy," explained Stuard, a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection. "So he just grabbed a random coat he had. He did not understand what this was. I didn't understand this was."

It just so happened to be the hat of the group that called his name with the 259th overall and final selection of the draft, making him this year's Mr. Irrelevant.

"When his selection was up and they were on the telephone, he had been pointing in the hat," Stuard said of the dad. "I was like,'That is just crazy.' It was only by chance."

Stuard becoming to this moment was not by chance, however. The leadership skills that led to him being voted a team captain at Houston were cultivated in the home. Though both were together in Houston for one of the main days of Stuard's life, his relationship with his dad was marked by ups and downs and absenteeism, and he fought to take care of his allies.

"My mother is a drug addict. ... She was able to work in the sex business," Stuard told ESPN on Saturday night. "My father was a fantastic part of our youthful life. When he was not in jail, he was very absent when we were growing up. That results in both parents absent the vast majority of the moment."

"It had been bouncing from home to home," Stuard said. "Sometimes we did not know if there was yearning t be meals on the table. We did not know what school we were gonna go to."

He credits his faith, a village of people that helped him and football -- the one continuous he could turn to each August -- for keeping him on track.

"There were lots of people across the way -- a great deal of household members, lots of educators, a lot of coaches -- who deserve worlds of charge for everything they did," Stuard said. "Whether it was bringing a meal, or my Nina paying a bill. There were people all around the area that just gave us back. So that is why I am really passionate about giving back with the small things I do also."

In his Houston expert day, Stuard increased cash for toenails to Halos, a Christian company which aims to assist women who were involved with sex trafficking. Stuard asked fans to pledge donations for each rep that he played the bench press, with a goal of 25 reps. He wound up benching 28 reps, raising $5,210. He also put on back-to-school drives and toy drives.

"We love him as a individual and, obviously, as a player," general director Jason Licht said Saturday. "He has a lot emotion on the field. He's had a bit of a challenging life, he's been taking good care of his sisters. ... He's a really mature individual, a very accountable person and a very responsible football player. Guys that can get through tough times and adversity -- that's a major box to test for all of us."

They love his pace, physicality and toughness and think it will translate well to their coverage components.

"He informs me -- this is going back -- I was with the Dolphins when we signed Larry Izzo out of Rice as an undersized linebacker that played with a massive heart," Licht said. "He ended up creating a fantastic career for himself as a special teams linebacker. And of course that we do not believe Grant has a opportunity to play with linebacker -- he is going to become [an inside linebacker] for us on the area -- but we believe he's got a chance to excel as a special-teams ace"

Stuard said he hopes that he can use his platform to help others going through similar barriers, especially those with absent parents.

In terms of Stuard's connection with his loved ones, both parents were with him if he got the phone call from Tampa Bay. His mother even popped in through his Buccaneers videoconference with local media.

"My dad is doing much better. He has improved. His participation is a lot better. He's becoming more involved and he assists my little brother sports and stuff like this."

Stuard said his important driving force is being a role model because of his siblings. He and his wife plan to move a minumum of one of his four sisters in with them.

"Regardless of what hardship comes on your life, there's always a way out," Stuard said. "If you just keep working hard, doing everything you could and everything you can control and actually keep the Lord's will in your life, I genuinely think that you will be successful. That's pretty much the mindset I have day by day once I wake up, is just doing everything with everything I've got, because I know this is the only day that I have."