MADISON – Griffin Grady was content on redshirting, using the year to build his body, his knowledge of the playbook and create another year of separation between him and the underclassmen ahead of him. But when injuries started to mount, Grady jumped at the chance to play.
Making his collegiate debut last week in the win over Akron, Grady got his feet wet with a tackle against the Zips and got his career off and running.
A team MVP as a senior and a two-year team captain, Grady was a big piece to Wisconsin’s 2016 recruiting class, finishing his three-year varsity career with 285 tackles, 28 TFLs, 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, three interceptions, 14 pass breakups and three blocked punts. He hopes now to fill in any way he can while gaining valuable experience for the years to come.
Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.
What’s been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?
Grady: The hardest part is just adjusting as a whole. It’s a lot more of everything. In high school you have school for certain hours and then you have practice afterword. Now you have class at different times on different days, office hours, going into meetings and everything. You have that all jumbled around and have to keep track of everything. It’s a lot more to do, but it’s more impactful. It’s all worth it, so it’s great to be a part of something like this.
What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Grady: It’s a big step up, especially in camp going against the offense as big and powerful as ours. You realize that these big o-linemen are faster than anybody I’ve ever seen playing that position. The game speed is a lot faster. You hear everybody say it, but it really is true making that step up from high school. You adapt and you get used to it.
How did you prepare your body before coming to college so you would be able to step right in and start competing?
Grady: in spring of my senior year I was hitting the weights hard, conditioning, getting ready to get up here in the summer by continuing trying to put on weight to be able to hit up these bigger guys in the Big Ten. You’ve got to have some grit to you to take those guys on. It’s more of a mindset, get locked in and here we go. There’s no time to be patient now; you’ve got to let it fly, let it loose.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Grady: I think I am more of a speed guy. I am a lighter linebacker than the other guys at the inside spots, so the things I have to work on is strength, size and weight to be able to play against the power teams that run isolation down your throat. You’ve got to be able to fit those guys. I got a taste of it going against our offense all of camp. I know I can do it, but I just have to get better and it’ll get easier once I get bigger.
How is Madison different than Dublin, Ohio?
Grady: Madison is a lot different. It’s not a city school, but it’s got a little bit of a city school feel. Madison is Wisconsin. It’s embracing the school and embracing the football and all the other sports here. There’s not a sport that’s bad here. We’ve got a great athletic program. In Dublin, it’s a high school town. A lot of it is Buckeye fans. We’re not far from Columbus. I’m glad to get away from that and get into the Badger fans and the life style. It’s refreshing and it’s great to have great fan support here.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Grady: I haven’t decided firmly yet, but I’m thinking about going into journalism and mass communications, maybe look into broadcasting. Whether that changes we’ll see.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Grady: You can’t go wrong with the Terrace out on the lake. It’s beautiful, especially walking down State Street. You see a bunch of people out and about, having a good time and eating lunch at a bunch of different restaurants. You look one way you see the capitol; you look at the other way you see Bascom Hill and the other way you see the lake. The scenery is great. The whole place is just great.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Grady: There’s not a whole lot of places in Madison that you don’t like, but I’d probably go with the Regent apartment building we stayed in during camp, but nothing too bad.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Grady: Just hanging out with the buddies I’ve been able to befriend here now. I think our class is going to jell pretty well, getting a chance to know those guys over the summer and have a good time. I think we embrace our teammates.
Who are you living with this fall?
Grady: I’m living with Seth Currens.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about Seth?
Grady: He’s pretty handy. I got a moped and he and his dad were working on the engine to try to make it as good as it could be. That’s something unique about him.
Where does your biggest support come from?
Grady: My biggest support is my parents and siblings. I think I have great family to lean back on. People always ask me for tickets. I’ve got to shut them down because my family wants to come up since I’ll be seeing the field a little bit. My dad has always been by my side through my football career and through the recruiting process. He’s never been that dad to say I have to do this. Before every game he says “Play hard and have fun.” He says, “Play the game. You’re playing this game because you want to, not because I want you to. I’m glad you are because I love watching you play.” He’s been very supportive.
My mom was the athlete between my parents. She played basketball at UMass. She brings that competitive edge and is always supporting me.
What’s your parents’ reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?
Grady: My mom was really excited about it because her niece, my cousin, went here, so she got to know the campus. When I got my offer from here and started to take visits, she was always wanting to come with because she loves the campus. She was pumped. That was just the University side of it. The football side of it, it’s hard to beat a place like this.
From all of your scholarship offers, what made Wisconsin stand out from everyone else?
Grady: It was every category. When I made a decision, I made a chart of all the schools I was considering down the stretch and looked at who had the better campus? Wisconsin. Overall football program? Wisconsin was a lot of those with its tradition. Coaching staff? It’s hard to beat Coach Chryst and the coaching staff here. Stadium, campus, fan support is huge. That was a big deciding factor for me.
What it’s like to put on the Wisconsin jersey every day, run out of the tunnel in front of 80,000 fans and be a part of this program on a daily basis?
Grady: It’s incredible. Coming from Coffman (High) you have that high school fan support and you think it’s pretty cool. Coming here you realize it’s so much bigger. You pull up on the buses and you see the fans flashing the ‘W’ and everything. We’re putting on that jersey, drawing these crowds and make this state of Wisconsin proud with what we do on Saturdays. It’s a blessing to have these opportunities.