August 30, 2023
Alex Grant runs it back
Note: This story was originally published as part of a package highlighting Charlotte alumni ahead of Gamecock football’s season opener. Find the full slate of stories on sc.edu >
Original story by Craig Brandhorst
Alex Grant is all about Carolina.
As the digital video manager for the Carolina Panthers, the Columbia native produces social media videos and reels to hype the Charlotte NFL franchise. As a Gamecock Productions intern at the University of South Carolina from 2013 to 2016 — and later, a full-time Gamecock Productions staff member — Grant produced content for Gamecock football and women’s basketball.
Sure, the broadcast journalism major spent the summer before his senior year interning at ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. He also spent a year as creative director for football at the University of Maryland. But the Carolinas never left the 2016 graduate’s mind.
In fact, it was a call from the Queen City that lured him home from College Park.
“When I got to the University of Maryland, I told my head coach, ‘Look, I’m here for the long haul. I’m not interested in leaving any time soon unless one of my home teams comes calling,’ ” he explains. “And then that following July someone from the Panthers reached out and said they had a position open. Things kind of fell into place from there.”
Keyword: Place. Or Places. Or — let’s just call it Carolina.
Grant got hooked on video production in the magnet program at Columbia’s Richland Northeast High School and honed his skills at USC. But growing up, he also spent time in Charlotte. He sported garnet and black on Saturday and on Sunday gravitated naturally toward Panther blue.
“My family actually used to live in Charlotte for a few years when I was younger, so I’ve been a Panthers fan my entire life,” he says. “I’ve had the opportunity to cover my home team twice now in my career, and it just it makes it that much more impactful.”
He’s talking, of course, about his time at Gamecock Productions under then-director Paul Danna. Before that team was absorbed into the athletics department’s New & Creative Media team, Grant got the hands-on experience and the professional guidance needed to launch a successful career in the industry.
“Paul did a great job of making sure that everyone was being held accountable, from the staff down to the student interns who were working there,” Grant explains. “The way that he ran the whole department, not just the interns, there was the expectation of excellence.”
My first year working at USC was the year that we beat Clemson for the fifth time in a row. The atmosphere in the stadium that night was just unreal. Obviously, I’d worked a full season as an intern at that point, so I’d gotten used to what gameday was like, but this was another level.Alex Grant
And those expectations were accompanied by excitement, especially for a young intern. After spending his freshman year at USC Upstate, Grant came home to Columbia and got a quick dose of Gamecock spirit.
“My first year working at USC was the year that we beat Clemson for the fifth time in a row,” he says. “The atmosphere in the stadium that night was just unreal. Obviously, I’d worked a full season as an intern at that point, so I’d gotten used to what gameday was like, but this was another level.”
He remembers running out on the field to capture footage of the celebration. The players and coaches were hugging each other, jumping up and down. The fans were out of their heads with excitement. Williams-Brice was rocking.
“It all kind of hit me,” Grant recalls. “I used to sit at home and watch these games on television and think, ‘Oh, this would be really fun to shoot. This would be really fun to be a part of.’ And now here I was, doing it.”
He would continue to do it for the rest of his time at South Carolina. And when the connections and experience he gained as an intern helped him land a fulltime job with Gamecock Productions after graduation, he kept on doing it at higher and higher levels.
Among his favorite memories? Helping capture the excitement as Dawn Staley’s women’s basketball program jumped from perennial powerhouse to dynasty. He has fond memories of shooting footage at their first NCAA championship, but asked for his fondest memories, he points back specifically to the night the Gamecocks took down UConn at Colonial Life Arena in 2020.
“That felt like a big ‘We’ve arrived’ moment,” he says. “Being there in front of a home crowd, then seeing the videos that we created pregame and during the timeouts, and seeing the content that we created after the game — being part of what helped keep that atmosphere going — it just felt great to feel like we were a piece of that.”
Now that he’s putting his skills to work in the NFL, he gets to contribute to the atmosphere at Bank of America Stadium and drive the hype among Panthers fans who see his team’s work on social media. But he’s still a Gamecock at heart and seeing Shane Beamer’s 2023 squad take the field in Charlotte this September as they open another season promises to be another special moment.
It won’t be a new experience — he’s seen the Gamecocks play in Charlotte a couple of times already — but it never fails to take him back.
“I remember being on staff at USC, coming to play at Bank of America Stadium and thinking, ‘Wow, this is an NFL stadium and we’re playing a game here,’ ” he says. “I love being on the other side of that now. I still have relationships with people who work on staff at USC, so it’s awesome just to see them in their element at our stadium on gameday.”