Garrett Grayson is a soft-spoken guy.
He isn’t the type of flashy, big-talk quarterback that CSU fans once loved to see spike a football off a Colorado Buffalo player’s helmet like Bradlee Van Pelt.
In fact, his quiet demeanor was something that nearly cost him the starting position as coaches pushed for him to be a more vocal leader during camp when he found himself in the midst of a quarterback competition.
One season after losing his starting job because of an injury he sustained in a blowout loss to Air Force last September, the junior from Vancouver, Wash. broke a 30-year-old CSU single season passing record in (coincidence?) the Rams’ 58-13 thrashing of the Falcons last weekend.
“I didn’t even know I was close to be honest with you,” Grayson said after breaking the record first set by Terry Nugent in 1983. “It’s a huge honor, but I mean it really goes to the guys up front. When they give you the time that I’ve had all season, it makes my job a lot easier.”
With 3,327 passing yards, Grayson has had one of the best statistical seasons of any Ram quarterback, all while helping a program post its first winning season in a decade. Coming into the season, Grayson was still fighting for his job under center.
But Grayson didn’t let up. Instead, he took responsibility for the shortcomings of the offense, especially for the 13 dropped passes in the first two games of the season.
“After the second game I went up to coach Mac and just tried to figure out what I was doing wrong,” Grayson said. “I think that was something that was just kind of a turning point for me just to go talk to the head guy and get some info from him, things that I can do better. I think that’s when things started to change.”
Three weeks later against UTEP, Grayson had the first 300-yard passing game of his career as well as his first three touchdown performance. He would go on to produce four more of each by the end of the regular season.
As much as McElwain was questioned about Garrett during the season, he never gave up on him.
“I didn’t expect him to go any way but up,” McElwain said before heading into conference play. “I didn’t expect him to take a step back and feel sorry for himself, he never has; that’s not who he is, that’s not what he’s all about.”
For McElwain, Grayson’s leadership comes from the way he prepares for each game and his ability to hold himself accountable.
He may not be the loudest guy on the field, but ask his teammates and they will tell you that he has never lost his confidence and they, in turn, have never lost confidence in the man behind center.
“He’s done a heck of a job, not only with his plays but also with his leadership,” said center Weston Richburg. “The guy is a leader, and when your quarterback is a leader guys are going to follow him. It’s been really awesome to see him develop and mature.”
With one more season left to play for the Rams and as he and his teammates await to see if they will be invited to a bowl game this year, Grayson has the opportunity to break even more records. When all is said and done, though, he hopes he will be remembered for more than the statistics.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that I would like from the team and from the community, (to be remembered) as the guy that tried to do the right thing all the time,” Grayson said. “Obviously I want to be the best player to ever come out of CSU, as any player does, but at the same time looked at as respected and as a good person. I think that would be better than anything.”
Football Beat Reporter Katie O’Keefe can be reached at email@example.com.