Don't Doubt South Florida's Matt Grothe, He Just May Prove You Wrong
"Good question," he said Wednesday. "I honestly have no clue."
Despite all of his past success, all of his game-changing highlight-reel plays, an uncanny ability to single-handedly carry his school to unprecedented success, there remains a general consensus that this quarterback's game is fine for college, but not necessarily tailored for the NFL.
Matt Grothe has heard it all before.
"It's been like that all my life," Grothe said. "I can't do this, can't do that. My height, my arm, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is, I've showed I can play."
Grothe came to South Florida five seasons ago. He was supposedly too small, too slow, too far down the depth chart and didn't have the necessary arm strength to start at quarterback. Oh yeah -- he also was too short.
"He's deceiving," said former USF tight end Ben Busbee, Grothe's college roommate. "I remember the first time I met him on our first visit to Raymond James Stadium when they introduced us."
Busbee was expecting someone, well, bigger.
"I said, 'you're a quarterback, right?,' " Busbee said. "Well, let's get ready to play some football then."
Grothe's college football career ended last season on Sept. 19 when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee against Charleston Southern. Despite his senior year ending barely midway through his third game, Grothe still finished as the greatest offensive force in the history of the Big East Conference, rolling up 10,875 total yards.
All those yards -- and his 75 career touchdowns running and passing -- came before the season-ending knee injury, giving NFL scouts yet something else to question.
"The home stretch is going well, better than the first couple of turns," said John Phillips, Grothe's agent. "It took Matt being 100 percent back from the knee injury for that to happen."
Phillips feels strongly about Grothe's worth to an NFL team.
"To make my closing argument: Are teams looking at him right now like [Sam] Bradford or a [Tony] Pike? No," Phillips said. "But he could replace any third-string quarterback in the league. He could compete with many back-ups and bring some good competition otherwise. He would be a phenomenal option and as far as 'The Wildcat' option, he also brings that to the table."
Then there's the height factor. Phillips said Grothe has been measured between 5-foot-11¾ inches to 6-foot-½ inch with his weight between 207-212 pounds. Phillips is quick to add that a certain Super Bowl winning quarterback named Drew Brees is listed at 6-feet.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League already have acquired Grothe's rights. That means Grothe can either sign with the NFL team that drafts him, with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent or with Hamilton.
Grothe will have to make a tough decision: sign with an NFL team where, at best, he'll initially be third-string on the depth chart or head to Canada where he would compete for a starting position.
"Matt can take over the CFL," Phillips said.
Grothe and his family are friends with Doug Flutie, who starred in the CFL before playing in the NFL. Grothe said he's talked in the past with Flutie about his experiences in the CFL.
"If I go to the CFL, I'll have the opportunity to go up there and play a lot of football and do what I did in college," said Grothe, who threw for 8,669 yards and rushed for 2,206 yards at USF. "But even if you're the third quarterback on an NFL team, you can learn the system for a few years and then, who knows? Someone might get traded."
Grothe is unsure ultimately what he will do. That decision can wait -- Grothe has more immediate concerns right now, like trying to knock down a 22-foot birdie putt on the par-four, sixth hole at The Golf Club at Bridgewater in his hometown of Lakeland, Fla.
Grothe just misses, but taps in for a par. He finishes Wednesday's round with a very respectable 6-over-par 78.
With the draft approaching, beginning Thursday night and continuing through Saturday, Grothe admits he's getting anxious. He just wants to get it over with.
On Friday night, Grothe will turn his attention to something he enjoys as much as golfing, hunting and fishing. And that's interacting with kids.
He'll visit the Ronald McDonald House at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. It's a facility for families whose children are in the hospital. Grothe came to Phillips with the idea.
"Matt just gets it," Phillips said. "I don't have to worry about keeping his ego down."
Grothe will have dinner with the kids and their parents, hang out and sign some autographs. After listening to Grothe, he's the one that gets the most out of these visits.
"I grew up in a good family and was a little spoiled," Grothe said. "But a lot of kids don't have the stuff I did growing up. When I got hurt, it opened my eyes a little wider. I felt it was tough being in my shoes, but then I realized there are kids out there that have it 100 times worse than I do.
"I love to talk [to the kids] because they cheer me up."
Early in his freshman season at USF, Grothe definitely needed some cheering up. Busbee remembers after one practice during their first season in 2005, when Grothe told Busbee he was leaving school.
"He said, 'I don't think it's going to work out here. I'm really thinking about packing it up and going to junior college,' " Busbee said. "I told him there was no way in hell he was going to do that."
Busbee convinced Grothe to stay.
"We have this whole opportunity ahead of us," Busbee told Grothe.
Now five years later, another opportunity awaits Grothe in either the NFL or the CFL. Whichever league it is, Busbee said it doesn't matter. He's seen this movie before.
"There's no doubt he'll make it," Busbee said. "Knowing Matt for five years and everything he's done and everything he's been through, whoever gives him a chance will be glad they did. He'll turn heads.
"All he's done every year is proven people wrong."
Without naming teams, Phillips said he's talked with several NFL clubs interested in using a late-round pick on Grothe.
"I think he'll play professional football for years," Phillips said. "It may take a year or so to go the Flutie route to the NFL or he could be a career CFL guy if he wants. There's nothing wrong with that."
Contact FanHouse senior writer Brett McMurphy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BrettmcmurphY