Blue Hawks senior LB Jay Grosz making most of position switchJay Grosz is a coaches’ dream.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Jay Grosz is a coaches’ dream.
Coming into this season, Dickinson State football coaches asked Grosz to switch positions from inside linebacker — the position he had played since his freshman year — to outside linebacker. In DSU’s defense, it’s a position that is just as much a defensive end as it is a linebacker.
The coaches hoped the move would help Grosz use his speed and ability to track down the ball more effectively and also allow him to be used both as a run stopper and in pass coverage.
He has adjusted almost perfectly.
“I’ve been able to use open space and use my athletic ability to maybe capitalize on some things, where in the middle I was getting thrown around a little bit by some teams,” Grosz said. “I like that. I like running in free space and making plays out on the edge.”
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound senior leads DSU with 28 tackles this season, giving him 137 for his career.
“He’s blossomed there this year and he’s given us some big plays from that spot,” DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said.
The Mott-Regent High School graduate, who helped the Wildfire win the 2007 9-man state championship, said changing positions hasn’t been a difficult transition.
“The coaches have put me in good positions to make plays, and just working with the D-line has gone real well,” Grosz said. “So far, I like it. I’d like to make more plays and do better, but as far as how the changes have gone, it’s gone pretty well so far.”
Grosz’s ease of position switch shows why he’s the type of player every coach wants.
He is a leader who knows when to be vocal and when it’s best to show the way by setting an example. He rolls with the punches, often times punching right back.
“He’s always been kind of a leader,” DSU defensive coordinator Arlan Hofland said. “This year, he’s taken it upon himself to be more vocal. He knows everybody’s assignments, he’s helping everybody make the checks and do those things. Moving him to an outside ’backer did a lot of things. It wasn’t because he didn’t necessarily get things done inside, but he just helped us so much more outside and he can utilize his tools a little better.”
Grosz has experienced highs and lows with DSU football.
He was a redshirt when DSU started its string of three consecutive Dakota Athletic Conference championships.
He played a big role in the last two conference titles, coming off the bench at linebacker and playing special teams as a redshirt freshman while moving into a starting role at inside linebacker as a sophomore despite missing five games after dislocating and fracturing his left elbow in the season opener.
Last season, Grosz had 65 tackles and two interceptions as the Blue Hawks struggled to a 4-6 record. This year, DSU is 1-3 and enters today’s game against No. 8-ranked Carroll College (3-2) at 1 p.m. today at the Badlands Activities Center as a big underdog.
“Every year I’ve been here, it’s been tough,” Grosz said. “Every year has been a set of new challenges.”
This year is Grosz’s first at DSU in which one of his brothers isn’t a teammate.
He played four seasons with his older brother Tyler Grosz, a running back who finished his career in 2011, and spent one season with Clint Grosz, a former standout receiver who got to spend his two seasons playing with both of his brothers.
“We’d sure take three more like the three we’ve had,” Biesiot said.
Jay Grosz said he doesn’t know what he wants to do after he graduates —he’s on his last 12 credits and finishes his bachelor’s degree in agriculture studies with an option in ranch management at the end of the fall semester — but said he plans to stick around the area.
“I want to finish,” he said. “It’s something my parents have always pushed me to and I’ve always pushed for too. Just to graduate and finish my career, that’s all I want to look for right now. The rest will work itself out.”
He doesn’t intend on leaving the football field quietly either.
“I told myself every day, I want to go out and leave everything that I’ve got on the field this year,” he said. “Every game I have to go out and play like that. That’s the only way this team is going to be successful. As a leader and as a senior on this group, everyone has to see that and follow from that. That’s what I’ve been trying to portray on the field.”