Mr. Underrated
Tyler Grisham
CUTigers.com
Posted Aug 27, 2007


CLEMSON – There is the very real and distinct possibility that Tyler Grisham could become his own worst enemy this season, because the better he does, the more he’s going to be in the spotlight. And that is something he’d much rather do without.

The junior wide receiver isn’t flashy or flamboyant. He’s reserved, quiet and prefers to let others be interviewed and receive the glory. All Grisham wants to do is play the game he loves without all the fanfare.

And that’s good, because for the first two seasons of his Clemson career, he’s lived in shadows of his fellow wide receivers, despite the fact that he tied for the team lead in touchdown catches in 2006.

Grisham also had more catches, touchdowns and receiving yards last season than Rendrick Taylor, who has a body that rivals Mr. Olympia, and Jacoby Ford, who is one of the fastest football players in the nation.

Aaron Kelly, whom many consider to be the receiver with the best chance to put up big numbers, had only five more receptions than Grisham and the same amount of touchdowns.

Yet, Grisham seems to be an afterthought to most fans and media.

“Jacoby has the speed, Aaron has the height and Rendrick has the size,” Grisham said. “Those guys are freaks and they make for better stories.”

However, despite the physical attributes of his teammates, one defensive coach said Grisham was the best receiver on the team. And his position coach can understand why that was said.

“He’s just a blue-collar guy that works really hard and takes a lot of pride in his job,” receivers coach Dabo Swinney said. “It’s funny because everybody wants to ask about Jacoby or Aaron or Rendrick. Most people don’t ask about Tyler and he might be the best player out of all of them. He’s definitely the most complete. He’s really good at everything.”

“Against Boston College, I had a great game, I had my first touchdown, but because of that one drop I had, everything was ruined,” Grisham said. “Then I had one against Virginia Tech. They were both curls on the left side. That tells you that it was all in my head. You can’t think about dropping a ball and that’s how it was for me.”
Unfortunately for Grisham, he was thrust into the spotlight last season for the wrong reason. He had a drop in a key moment in two big games even though he is regarded as having the best hands on the team.

“Against Boston College, I had a great game, I had my first touchdown, but because of that one drop I had, everything was ruined,” Grisham said. “Then I had one against Virginia Tech. They were both curls on the left side. That tells you that it was all in my head. You can’t think about dropping a ball and that’s how it was for me.”

Making it an even more dire situation were the rip jobs he received from fans, who were claiming he wasn’t a Division I talent and didn’t deserve to have such a prominent role for the Tigers.

The worse part was that he actually started to believe what was being said. Grisham admittedly lost most of his confidence and faith in himself and his ability to catch a ball.

“In high school, I honestly cannot remember a drop I ever had,” he said. “I was confident in high school. I was confident last year, but I don’t know how much. I was just a sophomore and I was real anxious.”

The harsh criticism made him vow never to visit another message board on the Internet as long as he’s a football player. It’s been nearly a year since he last checked one out.

“It got me down at first and that’s why I haven’t looked at it since the Boston College game,” he said. “Of course, my dad’s going to check them because he’s proud of his son and he’s going to see what they’re saying. And even when they’re saying good stuff about me and he tells me to check it out, I won’t even look at it. I don’t want to hear good or bad. I just want to go out there and play and have fun.

“I’ll take compliments from coaches and teammates and constructive criticism, but on the messages boards, it’s not going to be constructive, it’s going to be, ‘Oh, he sucks. Why is he out there?’ So, there’s no point.”

Swinney said even he had noticed a change in Grisham and how he carried himself last season after the drops. But he was quick to not to Grisham that the drops were very correctable and were due to a simple and small mistakes.

“When he drops one, you go, ‘Wow!’ and he had two big drops last year in crucial situations,” Swinney said. “In both cases, he took the catch for granted and just looked away, and that’s where the most balls are dropped.

“The last 12 inches of the flight of the ball is where the balls are dropped. You catch the ball with your eyes. Physically, yes, with your hands, but you actually catch it with your eyes. He caught a lot of balls, but people always remember what you drop.”

To ensure such drops never occur again, Grisham worked extra hard during the off-season on his craft. His hands have never been better and the rest of his game has improved, too.

“I don’t have the height like Aaron, so I’ve been working on my vertical and it’s improved,” he said. “And I don’t have the speed of Jacoby, so I’ve been working on my 40 times.”

However, most don’t know that he’s the second fastest of the four starting receivers. He also doesn’t have the body of Taylor, so he worked on his strength and size and that earned him the honor of being the most improved player in the weightroom during the spring.

All this is leading to what looks to be a very promising 2007 for the Alabama native, and much to his chagrin, that could lead to much more newspaper, television, radio and Internet exposure.

“I’d love to catch 30 touchdowns, but I don’t want to be a superstar,” Grisham said. “I just want to go out there and play.”


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