Two plays into last weekend's game against Wisconsin, Troy Grosfield got exactly what he's been longing for.
A little bit of respect.
On the Badgers' second play from scrimmage, quarterback John Stocco lofted a screen pass to fleet-footed tailback Brian Calhoun. Calhoun found himself in exactly the sort of situation that the Wisconsin staff wanted – in the open field with plenty of room to run.
It appeared to be a play that could have gone the distance. But after a 14-yard gain, it was the 6-0, 195-pound junior Troy Grosfield who managed to bring Calhoun down in the open field, preventing a big play from turning disastrous.
"The second play of the game, he caught a screen pass, and he was kind of on a breakaway and I went in and tackled him, and he got up and said, ‘Nice play, great play,'" said Grosfield.
"That's kind of what I was going for – people finally respecting me."
The reason it's taken a while for that to happen is because of the label Grosfield brought with him to Bloomington from Littleton, Col. – kicker.
After all, kickers are supposed to be a different breed. Even IU Coach Terry Hoeppner compares the duties of placekicking to the game of golf, a challenge that's often much more mental than physical.
But that's not the way it had been for Grosfield throughout his football career.
""I've never been just a kicker," said Grosfield. "I'm used to having people look at me as doing a lot more than kicking. So when I got here, it was a big culture shock for me that no one really respected me for being an athlete, just as a kicker."
Grosfield, who played wide receiver as well in high school, came to Bloomington with the belief that he'd also get an opportunity to test himself as either a receiver or defensive back, but that chance didn't surface at the outset.
"I came in just wanting a shot," said Grosfield. "I was told I'd get a shot, and I never really got that shot, which was kind of disappointing. I definitely wanted the chance – I wanted to do both."
Grosfield's first opportunity to play came courtesy his right leg as a redshirt freshman, when he handled the team's kickoff duties. He recorded 13 touchbacks during the 2003 season, but he was still left longing for more.
That chance finally came during the following spring, when a slew of injuries at the cornerback position prompted IU cornerbacks coach Troy Douglas to take a closer look at Grosfield out of necessity.
Grosfield was one of the biggest surprises that spring, and he's been in the secondary ever since. He played in seven games during the 2004 season and had a season-high seven tackles against Northwestern, and he's played in ever game this fall as the second-string free safety and the team's nickel back.
Grosfield ranks third on the team with 19 tackles, and his 14 solo stops ranks second on the squad to John Pannozzo's 20.
It's taken some time, but Grosfield is finally ridding himself of the kicker label that he's longed to shake.
"It took me about three years for people to stop thinking of me as just a kicker," said Grosfield. "When you come in as a kicker you are a kicker, and people give you grief about it all the time.
"So I've had to battle every day, showing people I can do other stuff."
He's proven his worth to both teammates and foes, and when he delivers a big blow or records an important tackle, it's all but an afterthought that he arrived in Bloomington better known for his skill at kicking the ball deep, not bringing an opposing ball carrier down.
"You have to earn your respect as an athlete every play on the field," said Grosfield. "When you come out and hit someone as hard as you can, and you're going all out, people are going to respect that."
Now, they finally do.
Grosfield Gets Kick Out Of Role
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