Hroniss Grasu was a standout center while at the University of Oregon. Having started all 52 games he played at center in his four year career, Grasu brought a mixture of durability and skill to table, highlighted by his ability to take on bigger nose tackles head-on.
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Now, Grasu, the Chicago Bears’ third round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, is competing for a starting job with veteran center Will Montgomery.
While he may not start right away, as a means of learning the position better under the wing of Montgomery, there is a chance that he will be Jay Cutler‘s primary snapper sooner than later.
A large part of his game is the fact that he is often times the most selfless player on the field.
In a piece by Jason Quick of The Oregonian, Grasu characterized himself as a “behind-the-scenes guy.”
“I’d rather put other people before me, try to help someone else succeed,” Grasu said.
Grasu’s attitude toward the game is important, especially for a player on the offensive line. Offensive linemen don’t score touchdowns or throw passes or record tackles–they simply don’t tend to show up in the box score.
May 8, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears center Hroniss Grasu (55) during Chicago Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Linemen fight in the trenches with big-bodied defensive lines to ensure that their ball carrier gets that extra yard or that gap to power through for a large gain, and to give their quarterback enough space or time in the pocket to find that wide-open receiver 50 yard down the field.
It’s the most self-sacrificial and selfless position on the field, and to have a player that prides himself on those characteristics is a big-time plus for the Bears.
To help his case, Grasu was also given the Todd Doxey Award while at Oregon, an award that is designated to the player who “best exemplifies the traits of spirituality, dedication and brotherhood.”
But where did this come from? How did Hroniss Grasu become the character that he is today?
Grasu was a helping hand waiting to happen at birth, as his mother said that he would always complain about being the youngest in the family because he had nobody to teach or guide. But according to Quick, those in his family believe that much of his character comes from Papu, Grasu’s grandfather.
Papu died when Grasu was 14 years old, after a history of diabetes paired with multiple surgeries. But he survived six months after doctors told him he would only have a few weeks to live, thus earning the name “Superman” from nurses.
Grasu’s family sees almost identical traits in him in comparison to those of Papu.
“They say I am a mirror-image of him, the way he cared about people and the way he put people in front of himself,” Grasu said.
And all of this is to no surprise at all. When Papu lived with Grasu and his family in Hollywood, Calif., the two would be arm-and-arm, going anywhere from sports practices to stores together.
Jan 10, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks center Hroniss Grasu (55) smiles as he answers questions during Media day for the Oregon Ducks at Dallas Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The caring and loving spirit of Papu carries on in the 6’3″, 297-pound body of Grasu, and one of his more high-profile Oregon teammates was not hesitant to give praise his way.
“He looks out for the best for all of us, no matter what,” Former Oregon quarterback and now-Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said in the article. “Doesn’t matter what it is, or who you are, he cares about all of us. And that’s special.’’
Now is the time for Grasu to make this type of his impression at the next level, whether it be recognized by a star like Matt Forte, a grizzled veteran such as Jeremiah Ratliff or a fellow lineman such as former Oregon teammate Kyle Long.
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