Our assignment is to write about our favorite "bold player" in our school's history. In that case, and assuming it's far too early to write a tribute post to JAWANZA!, then this has to be about Matt Grothe.
It's kind of a meme that Jim Leavitt made household names out of unheralded recruits. But Grothe was actually a pretty highly-touted quarterback from Lake Gibson High School. He was Florida's Class 4A player of the year and a finalist for Florida's Mr. Football in 2004 after racking up almost 4000 yards in total offense and accounting for 48 touchdowns, taking Lake Gibson to the 4A state championship game. After taking a redshirt season in 2005, it was inevitable that someday Grothe was going to get his shot at leading the USF offense.
That shot came in his first game as a freshman in 2006. USF was well on its way to losing to I-AA McNeese State when Grothe entered the game in relief of Pat Julmiste. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third as the Bulls scored the last 34 points in a row to earn a comfortable 41-10 win. The next week against SCUMBAGS, Grothe made his first start, and after a very unstable first half, he righted the ship with a touchdown pass to Taurus Johnson in the waning minutes as USF eked out a 21-20 victory.
The first few weeks were pretty unmemorable. He had a big game in Orlando and threw a deep touchdown pass to Johnson late in the fourth quarter to pull out a win over the Knights. Then this happened against Pittsburgh.
Then, in the same quarter of the same game, this happened.
From then on, it was Grothe's show and we were all invited guests.
Of course, those two plays against the Panthers were just scratching the surface of the bold plays Grothe made in a USF uniform. (There are a lot more of them after the jump.) And sure, sometimes the boldness backfired. After all, Grothe is also USF's all-time leader in interceptions. But he was a huge reason why the Bulls were ranked for the majority of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Only a bold and cocksure player like Grothe could have made a play like this happen in such a huge game.
When Grothe tore his ACL against Charleston Southern in 2009, it was the worst moment during a game in USF history. Fortunately the Bulls already had a huge lead at the time, because after his injury, everyone was just done mentally for the night. The fans got quiet, the players got unfocused, the broadcasters had a hard time calling the game, and maybe even the coaches were fighting to stay in the game. It was horrible.
Grothe meant a lot to his team, but he also meant a lot to USF football's profile outside of Tampa. To a random college football fan, Grothe was the undersized riverboat gambler with a mohawk who loved Chick-Fil-A and bow hunting, who never gave up on a play, and who made all kinds of crazy things happen for his team. It was good timing, too -- boldness defined Grothe as a football player, and it's the kind of trait that TV loves to follow around. With USF getting its first sustained national attention, it was the right place and the right time for the boldest player USF has ever had.
More of Grothe's greatest hits.