JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There's no traffic lights on-campus at Jacksonville University, but on autumn Saturdays, D.B. Milne Field's PA announcer tells the Dolphin crowd that opposing offenses have hit a red light, or should we say a Redding light.
Dolphin middle linebacker Grady Redding has led Jacksonville in tackles in each of the last two seasons while earning First Team All-Pioneer Football League honors both falls. The Cocoa, Fla. product has made so many stops over his career that he ranks fifth all-time in the JU record book with 224.5 total tackles.
"Regardless of any scheme that he has been in, Grady has the mindset that every tackle is his, and not every defender has that mindset," said his Head Coach Ian Shields. "He has a want-to factor to make a tackle more than the typical player. He has good instincts, plays fast, and is fearless. He's not the biggest guy, but he is the most aggressive."
His speed, aggression, and instincts might explain why Redding is 13th in FCS active career total tackles with 292, and ninth in solo tackles-per-game with an average of 4.71. His love for wrapping up ball-carriers dates back getting tossed out of flag football games.
"I started playing flag football when I was four. My father (Grady, Sr.) was my coach from flag until high school, and he would stay on me because I would tackle in flag. I got thrown out every game but one," said Redding.
His desire to throw down fellow tots steered to just that one short season of flag football before putting on the pads, and the passion for defense never faded as Redding went on to lead Cocoa High School to a pair of state titles in 2009 and 2010 and was twice name the Space Coast Defensive Player of the Year.
He's now running a similar scheme to his glory days at Cocoa, where the defense's design anticipates the middle linebacker to make plays. As a senior, he has led JU in tackles in three of its first four games, and tops the unit with a total of 19 solo and 23 assisted tackles.
"I was excited when the new staff came in because it is the same system we ran at Cocoa, and my teammates and I have adapted to it," said Redding. "I trust my teammates to do their job. You play faster when you trust the guy next to you."
"We have the perfect scheme for him in our defensive structure," said Shields. "He has talent and he turns it loose during a game. He has the mindset we want our mike linebacker to have."
Redding believes that he's taken strides physically and mentally in his final season and first under new defensive coordinator Rich Ellerson.
"No matter what you're facing, all you can control is your effort and attitude. My effort has always been high, and my attitude has gotten better this year in trying to stay positive," said Redding. "I just want to continue playing football and see us win this year."
"Grady loves to play football. He doesn't just like it, he's passionate about the game. Football is high on his priority list, and he loves to play no matter if it's a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday," said Shields. "It will be a sad day whenever he has to hang it up because I love watching him play and make tackles."