Even though former USF quarterback Matt Grothe’s senior season was cut short because of an ACL tear in 2009, he’s not stopping his effort to get to the next level.
Grothe, the Big East’s all-time total yards leader, is working on his 40-yard dash and shuttle times in a five to six week camp in Orlando under the tutelage of top strength and conditioning coach, Tom Shaw, a former New England Patriots coach who helped train Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Grothe said conditioning camp is just a small step toward reaching the NFL.
“(Getting drafted) is the plan,” said Grothe, who plans to participate at USF’s Pro Day on March 5 in front of NFL scouts. “I’m just trying to get back to where I was and show teams I can play at the next level. I want to show teams what I can do. When Pro Day comes around, I’m hoping I can do just that for them.”
Generally, players make a transition from pre-training camps to the NFL Scouting Combine and their school’s pro day, said John Phillips, Grothe’s agent. Grothe’s injury, however, kept him from receiving an invite to the combine, which will take place later this month.
“Matt didn’t get a combine invitation because of his injury. It wasn’t a possibility,” Phillips said Monday. “The guys rated lower than him at quarterback got invites … if he’s not ready to put the best numbers up as possible, he’s not ready to put any numbers up.”
Phillips said doctors told him Grothe is “way ahead of schedule” in his rehab from injury.
“I’d say he’s about 90 percent,” Phillips said Monday. “We’re holding him out of lateral movement – the cutting and twisting of the knee until he’s completely ready. The last thing we want is for Matt to mess up his knee or tweak his knee or do anything that’s going to cost him his career.”
As for what Grothe will do at USF’s Pro Day, he’ll likely stick to upper-body testing and running the 40-yard dash. But Phillips said Grothe would see a specialist before March 5 to decide if he’ll do the agility events.
“These guys only have one or two shots to post numbers,” Phillips said. “When it comes down to this, it’s largely a numbers game. Teams look at film and take everything into consideration. With an athlete like Matt, his ability to scramble and his agility drills are huge.”
Phillips said Grothe will continue training specifically for his knee after Pro Day while he’s re-evaluated by NFL teams leading up to the draft, which starts April 22.
Phillips, who said he’s been in contact with the New York Giants, said teams will take Grothe’s injury into account by evaluating his upper body more than his lower body after Grothe’s Pro Day.
“When I talked to (the Giants) last week, they said, ‘Don’t rush the kid. We’ll come down here or he can come up here,'” Phillips said. “Nobody wants Matt to overdo it.
“There’s a lot of interest there. The concern with any player with a knee injury is that knee injury. If you’re injured, they take you out of consideration until they see you’re well. Matt is working as hard as any young man I’ve ever seen.”
Grothe, who was denied a sixth year of college eligibility by the NCAA last season, is expected to go in the late rounds of the NFL Draft in late April or be an undrafted free agent, according to most experts.
“If it’s an option of being a third or second-string NFL (player) or a first-string CFL (player), those are options we’ll weigh,” Phillips said. “Frankly, I expect Matt to get drafted.”