Garrett Grayson knows it’s there. The pressure, the expectations, the responsibility that comes with commanding a football team. After all, being named to multiple elite college football award watch lists means that you’re someone that big things can be expected out of. But ask any of his teammates and they’ll tell you that the senior quarterback from Vancouver, Washington is more than up for the challenge.
“Garrett really became more vocal as a leader and a teacher this offseason,” receiver Joe Hansley said. “He’s been here for two or three years and he’s able to be extension of the coaches out there, especially to some of these younger guys. From the standpoint of being a leader, he’s just really grown a lot.”
After re-writing the Colorado State record books last fall with a school-record 3,696 passing yards and amassing the highest single-game yardage total in program history (445), the hopes of the Rams making consecutive bowl games for the first time since 2001-02 lie largely on the shoulders of number 18. And while Grayson is still the same soft-spoken young man on camera that he came in as four years ago, there’s a noticeable difference in the confidence of a player who was fighting for the starting quarterback spot at this time last season. A great deal of that newfound confidence comes from time spent with a certain other Colorado quarterback who wears the same number.
“It’s something I learned from Peyton (Manning) this summer, to be the most confident guy in the room,” Grayson said of his time at the Manning Passing Academy in July. “When you walk in there, you’re not cocky, but your guys should know that you know what you’re supposed to be doing 100 percent of the time.”
Knowing what he’s doing, as head coach Jim McElwain refers to it, means simply throwing the ball to the right colored jerseys.
“A lot has been said about the Manning Academy. I think the mental part of the game is what he really brought from there … He’s still got to throw it to our colored jerseys and not the other team,” McElwain said. “It’s a pretty simple concept, and I tell him that every day. What colored jersey are we wearing? Throw it to that one.”
But, despite the simplicity of “knowing what he’s doing,” Grayson also knows that to become one of the elite signal-callers in the Mountain West he’ll need to focus on the little things, something he reiterated at Tuesday’s preseason media day.
“In the back of mind I need to have that little voice pushing me to watch more film, and to perfect everything I do,” Grayson said. “If I don’t do those things, guys like (backup quarterback) Nick Stevens are going to be right there waiting.
And with all that’s been said about Grayson’s offseason, his greatest asset this year will likely come from the talented group of skill players surrounding him. Along with returners Kivon Cartwright, Rashard Higgins, and Joe Hansley, as well as a host other playmakers, Grayson will now have the services of a trio of redshirt freshmen receivers and lightning-quick newcomer Deionte Gaines. While there will be no Kapri Bibbs this season, Grayson believes the Rams offense could be better than record-breaking one last season.
Those are high expectations to project on himself, as well as his teammates, but as Grayson proved last season, he’s got the game to back it up.
Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.