BP’s Grimm commits to Pitt

Published Jun 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm (Updated Jun 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm)

Bethel Park offensive lineman Michael Grimm relishes the off-season.

“It’s my favorite part of football,” he said. “The building up, getting stronger and better.”

The off-season between his junior and senior years of high school became a whole lot better for two more reasons. One, Grimm settled on a college. Two, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl nominated him for a chance to showcase his talents in the annual East-West match-up set for 1 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

After visiting the University of Pittsburgh, June 14, Grimm committed verbally to the Panthers, who play their first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference this fall. Since his decision, the lineman has canceled upcoming recruiting visits to Alabama and Georgia. Grimm garnered so much interest from Division I schools that he compiled an alphabetized list of offers from Akron to West Virginia. It also included Arizona, Baylor, Boston College, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, JMU, Massachusetts, Pitt, Rutgers, Southern Florida, Temple, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and Vanderbilt.

“Actually, I wanted to be able to narrow the list to my top five before camp started in August,” said the 17-year-old rising senior. “So I had been thinking about this a lot. I never realized it until I went there that Pitt would be it. I just felt so comfortable there.”

Grimm credited Pitt offensive line coach Jim Hueber for welcoming him.

“The whole visit was very professional and I really liked Coach Hueber. He’s a great guy. He knew what he was talking about. That sold me.

“I’m super excited about going there,” Grimm said about Pitt. “I’m completely committed. I can’t wait to finish my senior season and go on to the next level.”

Before Pitt, that next level could mean seeing how Grimm stacks up against the top talent in the nation. He already took a very big step toward participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl with his strong showing in an NFL-like combine to narrow the field of all-stars. During the two-day workout, Grimm set a combined record for 33 reps during the 185-pound bench press. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.2 seconds, which ranked him as one of the top two linemen. His pro-shuttle run clocked in between 5.1 and 5.2 and his vertical leap measured 23.5.

Not bad for a guy who stands 6 feet, 6 inches and weighs 320 pounds.

Size has always been Grimm’s greatest gift, next to his footwork and his ability to finish his blocks well. In fourth grade, he already weighed 200 pounds, well over the limit of 140 pounds set for the recreation football leagues within the community.

“I was too big to play,” he moaned. “But, I have always been real big. It’s genetic.”

Indeed, his father, Mike, is a body builder and his mother, Nanette, is a personal trainer. Plus, Grimm had four uncles who played football in college. Matt Fornadel excelled as a linebacker at Penn State. Paul and Mike Fornadel played at James Madision while Ed Fornadel competed at West Virginia.

“They have been helpful, particularly with the recruiting aspect of football. They did not sway me one way or the other. They just told me what to look out for and what questions to ask.”

The big question is where will Grimm play? Guard or tackle?

“I’ll always be an O-lineman, but I have no preference,” he said. “Wherever they choice to play me that will be fine with me. It’s about looking for the right fit.”

Currently, the right fit is the weight room at Bethel Park preparing for the high school season. He is anticipating the Black Hawks battling for a conference championship and a spot in the WPIAL Quad-A finals.

“Bethel Park will do fairly well,” he predicted. “Personally, I need to improve on everything, particularly my second step getting to the defense and pass protection.

“Our team is our whole family but we linemen are a family within that big group. The running backs and quarterbacks depend on us. Our unity is best for the game. It makes it special.”

Special would be playing in Heinz Field, sooner than later. Pitt plays its home games in the facility and the stadium is also home to the Steelers.

“The goal is to get to Heinz Field in November,” Grimm said. “Hopefully some day I’ll play there.”

To get to the NFL, Grimm says it’s “doable” and “achievable” particularly since he has seen offensive lineman Gino Gradowski make the progression from Seton-La Salle to Baltimore and a Super Bowl championship in his rookie season. Plus, he noticed that three out of the top four picks in this spring’s NFL draft were lineman.

Central Michigan’s 6-8, 305-pound offensive lineman Eric Fisher went to Kansas City Chiefs and Texas A&M’s 6-6, 310-pound Luke Joeckel went to Jacksonville Jaguars. Plus, Oklahoma’s 6-7, 303-pound Lane Johnson was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles as the No. 4 selection.

“It takes hard work and determination,” Grimm noticed. “I’m lifting and running and practicing every day. If that’s what you love, it’s achievable.

“And,” he continued, “To see what happened in the draft is great. It’s at the top of the priority list, now. As soon as Feb. 6 (national letter-of-intent day) comes along, that’s the overall goal, next to becoming a starter and getting better every year.”

Michael Grimm

Age: 17

Parents: Nanette and Mike

School: Bethel Park

Year: Senior

Sport: Football

Position: Offensive lineman

College choice: Pitt

Nickname: Reaper.

Favorite food: Grilled Chicken Breast or Fiori’s Pizza.

Favorite veggie: Asparagus

Favorite player: Maurkice Pouncey

Top TV show: “SpongeBob SquarePants.” I love cartoons.

Last book read: “Five People You Meet In Heaven.”

Best movie: “Fast & Furious.” I love those series of movies.

Twitter or Facebook? Twitter because it is not as confusing.

Best class? Math. X means something and whenever you do an equation, it’s perfect. In a subject like English, there way too many rules to remember. Math just makes more sense.

If not in the NFL, then what? I’d want to be a power lifter like my father. I love lifting.

Life lesson learned from football? That someone is depending upon you no matter what you do to succeed. As an O-lineman, you make a hole for the running back to score a touchdown so your team can win. It’s the same way in business. You are trying to help your company make profits or the sales. You’re always interacting in what is happening and you want to be a leader and do your part.

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