BY JOHN ROHDE
Special to SoonerSports.com
Nov. 18, 2017
Last weekend was the first time the entire Calcaterra family had been together since June, and their timing couldn’t possibly have been better.
They gathered at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium for the showdown between No. 5-ranked Oklahoma and No. 6-ranked TCU and were part of the largest crowd (88,308) ever to witness any event in Oklahoma.
On hand were the mother (Diane) and father (Chris), their eldest son (Nick) and the triplets (Andrew, Claire and Grant).
“It was the perfect weekend,” Grant said. “You couldn’t have done it any better.”
The Sooners (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big 12) kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive with a convincing 38-20 victory over the Horned Frogs. With the clock ticking inside the 4:00 mark in the first quarter, Grant entered the game. Never before had starting tight end Mark Andrews and Grant been on the field together.
There’s a good chance they’ll play together again because Grant made a dazzling 13-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone from quarterback Baker Mayfield to give OU a 17-7 lead. “I was shocked when I saw Grant run on (the field) and I didn’t see Mark run off,” Chris said. “And who was the first one to congratulate him after the touchdown? Mark Andrews.”
Grant said, “It was just a good play for the defense they were in. Hopefully, we’ll keep on doing it.”
Since joining the Sooners, Grant has created another set of triplets. His best friends on the team happen to be the aforementioned Mayfield and Andrews. That’s pretty heady company for a true freshman out of Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic High School.
Grant left high school last December to enroll early at OU. Three months later, a budding friendship grew during spring break at Cabo San Lucas, where Grant joined Mayfield, Andrews, plus a slew of other teammates and OU students. Andrew and Claire also were on hand.
During the Sooners’ open date in late September, Mayfield went to California and stayed with the Calcaterras. “He was such the gentleman,” Diane said of Mayfield, who is anything but when battling an opponent on the football field. “(Mayfield’s mother) Gina was like, ‘Are you sure this is OK?’ I told her, ‘I’ll treat him like one of mine.'”
Mayfield enjoyed home-cooked meals, huddled around the fire-pit at night, went to the beach and even took in an Anaheim Ducks preseason game. “We fed them well and we let them rest,” Diane said. “It was really nice to get to know him (Mayfield) away from the stadium, away from the crowds. To us he’s Baker, the kid who is Grant’s friend. The same with Mark. They’re just great, talented players who happen to be friends of my son.”
Chris also is member of the Mayfield-Andrews fan club. “They are tremendous mentors for Grant in so many ways,” Chris said. “Baker in particular has taken it to the next level in terms of advice for future stages Grant might experience. It’s been really cool.”
Grant has taken full advantage of learning under two of the nation’s elite at their positions. It was Andrews and Mayfield who helped lure Grant to sign with OU during his recruiting visit.
“I really spent a lot of time with Mark,” Grant said. “It was a big part in my decision because I really love the position that Mark plays (split wider than the usual tight end position) and how they use him in the offense. I fell for that. I thought I could come in and kind of step into his shoes when he leaves and play that role.”
On the season, Grant has four catches for 63 yards (15.8-yard average) and half his receptions have been for touchdowns.
“I think I made my biggest improvement because of Mark, just because of his understanding where the defense will be, especially on running plays,” Grant said. “He’s helped me a lot with my blocking, where I need to position myself. Once Mark leaves, I think I can be everything that he was. I have good potential and I think coach (Lincoln) Riley is going to put me in position to be successful. I think I have all the tangibles, but there’s always room for improvement in every area.”
Andrews’ and Mayfield’s friendship with Grant has spread throughout the entire Calcaterra clan. They all frequently stay in touch via text.
Chris and Diane don’t seem to mind adding a couple more boys to their family, especially with their biological children spread throughout four states.
Nick, who is five years older, attended the University of Oregon and lives in Seattle. Meanwhile, the triplets have scattered since sharing the same womb.
Andrew is a freshman at Ohio State, which made for an interesting trip to Columbus for the Sooners’ 31-16 victory over the Buckeyes on Sept. 9. “He said he was kind of indifferent about who won,” Grant said of Andrew’s allegiance, “but it was cool to go up there and beat them.”
Claire is a member of the Kansas State soccer team. Chris, Diane, Grant, Mayfield and Andrews were on hand to watch K-State’s game at OU on Oct. 22, which the Sooners won 3-2. “Mark and Baker came to the game and cheered for Claire, even though it was Oklahoma’s turf,” Diane said. “It was really sweet. They have a good friendship.”
The triplets were born Dec. 4, 1998, on a Friday afternoon at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. Andrew arrived first at 2:58, then Claire at 2:59 and finally Grant at 3:01. They were born prematurely. Andrew weighed 3 pounds, 10 ounces; Claire weighed 3 pounds, 11 ounces; Grant tipped the scales at 3 pounds, 15 ounces. Diane was restricted to bed rest for 20 weeks.
From the start, Grant evidently was born to play for the Sooners. Chris gave each of his children a nickname. He called Andrew “Boo-Boo” after Yogi Bear’s best friend. The heftier Grant earned the name “Boomer.”
“He was always the biggest,” Chris said of Grant, who is now 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds. “Grant got the name ‘Boomer’ just because he was so physical and so strong and bigger than the other kids. I’m probably the only one who calls him that. Maybe Diane every now and then. ‘Booms’ for short.”
Grant also excelled in lacrosse and basketball at a younger age, but football always topped the list. Grant stopped playing lacrosse after eighth grade and gave up basketball after his sophomore year in high school.
Around Easter of Grant’s junior year in high school, he and Chris hit the road to scout colleges. The trek began at OU and included stops at Vanderbilt, Michigan, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Indiana and Kentucky.
“We had set up a full week of tours,” Chris recalled, “but we could have gone home after Norman. As soon as we did Oklahoma, I called Diane and told her, ‘He’s going here.’ It was a great visit. It’s a beautiful school, a big-time program. Yeah, I knew right away.”
So did Grant.
“After I took my visit, I was pretty dead-set on coming here,” Grant said. “I knew I belonged here. I think I made the right decision.”
Chris chuckles at the irony of where Grant wound up playing college football.
“It was destiny,” he said of Boomer playing for the Sooners.