Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Austin Grammer Ready for Big Moment of Playing against Alabama

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Austin Grammer Ready for Big Moment of Playing against Alabama

Article excerpt

Austin Grammer grew up watching Andrew Zow, Tyler Watts, Brodie Croyle and John Parker Wilson playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

"I'm going to be a college quarterback," he told his father.

Grammer, who grew up in Northport and graduated from American Christian Academy, realized that dream, although not exactly the way he figured. He will set foot on the turf at the University of Alabama's home stadium on Saturday as a quarterback with the visiting Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

"I played in that stadium once when I was 12, in an all-star game," he said. "Since then I've been wanting to go back."

The path back to Bryant-Denny hasn't been a straight line, but it has come around to the intended destination.

"It didn't work out that I played at Alabama, but I was a huge Bama fan growing up and this is definitely a dream come true for me," Grammer said.

In fact, Grammer almost didn't end up playing at Middle Tennessee State. He committed to Houston as a high school junior, and remained committed to play for the Cougars until head coach Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M a couple of months before signing day. The new coaching staff at Houston elected not to honor the offer, leaving Grammer as a prospect without a team.

"It was definitely disheartening," Grammer said. "I remember I had a basketball game the night I found out and just not even wanting to play. I was kind of down and out."

At the same time, Middle Tennessee State lost a quarterback recruit who changed his mind.

"He ended up going somewhere else in the last week or two before signing day," MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. "When Houston had the coaching change and they weren't going to take Austin, somebody called me - I can't remember who - and said you ought to take a look at him.

"So I went down and talked to him and that's how we got on him."

Grammer passed for nearly 6,000 yards and 62 touchdowns while rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 20 more scores to twice earn All-State honors while leading ACA to back-to-back 12-2 seasons and semifinal appearances in the state playoffs as a high school junior and senior. He redshirted his first season at MTSU and played in 10 games as a backup a year later before winning the starting job last season.

Starting all 12 games, he completed 221 of 338 passes for 2,557 yards and 17 touchdowns, running for another 442 yards and six scores, as a redshirt sophomore.

"I'd say last year was a pretty strong learning experience for me," he said. "I was excited, first year starting, I'd say I had some great games and I think two or three games that I'd like to have back.

"I got in some big games last year like BYU, Minnesota and Memphis. Those games went really faster. Now, fast-forward a year and I feel like everything has slowed down, which has helped me playing-wise."

Stockstill said the 6-foot-2, 204-pound player's athleticism has made him more effective. …

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