LARAMIE — Carl Granderson was not familiar with the Piesman Trophy was when he first found out he was a finalist for this year’s award.
SB Nation gives the college football honor, which was first awarded after the 2015 season, to “linemen who do decidedly un-linemen things.” In Granderson’s case, it was a 37-yard interception return against New Mexico.
“I saw on Facebook an article that my family members tagged me in,” Granderson said. “I had no idea what it was for, though.”
But Granderson is no pie novice. His favorite? Kool-Aid pie.
“It’s a pie that you make out of Kool-Aid packages,” the junior defensive end said. “It’s kind of similar to cheesecake a little bit. The texture’s like cheescake a little, but it’s not the same thing. It’s a little different. You make it similar, though.”
When Wyoming ended its regular season with a game at San Jose State, Granderson, a Sacramento, California, native, had more than 20 family members in attendance. Most of them were watching him play in-person for the first time. The game was two days after Thanksgiving, and his family brought food for him to take home, including an entire Kool-Aid pie.
Granderson, who was recently named first-team all-Mountain West, said the tradition actually comes from Oklahoma.
“My grandma, she made it back when I visited out there when I was little,” he said. “... They’ve got to teach me how to make it myself. I ain’t up there yet.”
Granderson will not be attending Friday’s award ceremony in New York, as Wyoming is in preparation for the Dec. 22 Potato Bowl. His fellow finalists are St. Francis defensive lineman Louie Gartner and Heidelberg offensive lineman Brock Riggs. Gartner’s highlight was a long interception return for a touchdown, and Riggs was on the scoring end of a hook-and-lateral touchdown, which he ended by flipping into the end zone.
Granderson first watched the other plays at Wyoming’s media day Monday. Wyoming defensive end Kevin Prosser was also a nominee for his pick-6 at Utah State, but he was not a finalist.
Granderson, who had recorded his first career interception at Utah State, made his highlight during a 42-3 win over New Mexico that included seven Wyoming takeaways.
“It was one of the big plays that everybody talked about,” Granderson said, “so that’s pretty cool.”
He was a little annoyed, however, that he did not score a touchdown on the play — especially because Prosser had scored one.
“I should’ve went left instead of going right, because I could’ve walked into the touchdown if I had went left,” Granderson said. “But I’m pretty happy that I went right, because I made a play, still, and got to the (3)-yard line. So I’m satisfied with that.”
Granderson displayed an athleticism on the play that is atypical of most linemen. He jumped up to intercept the screen pass, ran toward the right sideline, juked one defender, stiff-armed another to the ground and spun 180 degrees before running the rest of the way.
Those skills don’t come by coincidence. Granderson also played wide receiver in high school and said he had about 13 receiving touchdowns as a sophomore. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
“I was on kick return,” he said. “They kicked me the ball. I was supposed to fall on it and I took it to the house.”
Since coming to Wyoming, Granderson has put on 72 pounds, according to UW. When he celebrates with his family this holiday season, maybe he’ll add some more.
“Christmas, I think we’ll have something else,” Granderson said. “But if I want another Kool-Aid pie, they’re going to make it, though.”