Grigsby’s senior season at Arizona: It’s all about familyby Anthony Gimino on Aug. 09, 2010, under Sports
Arizona senior running back Nic Grigsby is, naturally, hoping for a big final season. But no matter what he does on the field, he’ll be doing it in front of his mom.
That right there should make it a blessed season.
Grigsby’s mother, Bernice, is moving from Long Beach, Calif., to Tucson. His sister, Destiny, is coming, too, and will enroll at Arizona as a junior. His younger brother, Terris Jones, is a freshman walk-on running back.
“It’s going to be a big-time year with all the family out here for this season,” Nic said. “I’m happy. It’s all about family.”
As far as families go, there isn’t one that seems more together than Team Grigsby. Bernice is a single mom who escaped an abusive relationship — Nic doesn’t know his father, who has been incarcerated for a violent crime for nearly all of Nic’s life.
As I wrote in a 2008 story for the print edition of the Tucson Citizen, Bernice is in the habit of texting her children every morning: Have a blessed day. Stay humble. Stay focused. I love you.
She has now sent four boys into college football.
There are five Grigsby children. Which is why Nic wears No. 5 at Arizona.
As for the brothers, Ahmad, the oldest, played at Kentucky and now lives in Atlanta with his family.
Marcellous, who played at Temple, is attending grad school and doing an internship with the FBI, according to Bernice.
Then there is Nic. And then Terris, who gets to live with his big brother this season.
“It’s really good,” Nic said. “Teach him the ropes, take him under my wing. And it helps me do the right thing, make sure I lead him the right way.”
Nic said Terris had scholarship offers — including for track. He rushed for 1,912 yards and 26 touchdowns last season at California High School in Whittier.
“He liked the offensive scheme here,” Nic said. “And he knows he can get into the open field and make plays, so he went this route.”
Grigsby, whose 2009 was limited by a shoulder injury, says he’s feeling as good as he’s felt in a long time. He says he’s up near 200 pounds — the heaviest he has been — specifically working on adding more bulk in his shoulders.
“But I can still move, so it’s a good deal,” he said.
The shoulder injury made 2009 a start-and-stop season in which he rushed only 79 times — only 26 of which came in Pac-10 play. He rushed for 567 yards last season — 7.2 per carry — and darted for the 50-yard game-winning touchdown against Stanford.
And it’s not as if he has been chronically injury-prone. He started every game in 2008, carrying the ball 214 times, which was the second-highest total in the Pac-10 behind Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers.
Grigsby has 2,424 rushing yards at Arizona, eighth on the school’s career list. He trails leader Trung Canidate by 1,400 yards. If he stays healthy, he might have a shot at that, although the Wildcats could use a spread-the-wealth approach with Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko that would make reaching such a milestone difficult.
Grigsby says he doesn’t have a yardage number in mind as a goal for this season — “big plays, that’s all I’m thinking about,” he said — and his mom will be close at hand to remind him to stay humble.
Bernice, a nursing assistant, was able to transfer her job from the VA Medical Center in Long Beach to Tucson. She hasn’t been able to see many of his college games in person, but now gets seven home games in 2010.
In an e-mail, she echoed Nic’s sentiment about his senior season.
“It’s all about family,” she said.