By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
GOOD HOPE —
As a self-described “short, chubby” middle-schooler, Josh Grigsby had his mind made up he’d one day play college football. At the time, it was simply a hope, but once the Good Hope lineman entered his junior and senior years, he quickly realized, “Hey, this can actually happen.”
On Thursday in the high school library, Grigsby’s early dream became a full-fledged reality, as he officially signed a letter of intent to attend and play football at Campbellsville University, a private, Christian school in South Central Kentucky.
“Oh my goodness. It’s pretty exciting,” the 6-foot-3, 270-pound softy said shortly before inking his signature in front of family, friends, teammates, coaches, fellow students and other Raider athletes. “I’ve worked my tail end off for it, but man, God has truly blessed me. It’s really exciting to go play college football.”
The signing ceremony brought an end to a long, strenuous recruiting process for Grigsby and his family. After traveling to campuses across the region for visits nearly ever weekend, the senior eventually received offers from Campbellsville, Huntingdon College (Montgomery), Belhaven University (Jackson, Miss.) and Averett University (Danville, Va.).
Grigsby built relationships with each of the schools that showed interest in him and genuinely felt bad informing the latter three of his ultimate choice. However, he didn’t need much convincing Campbellsville was the right destination.
“I did a lot of thinking and a lot of praying,” Grigsby said of the decision-making process. “When I went up there to visit, it was such a great experience. I felt like God was pushing me that way, and I just walked into mom and dad’s room and was like, ‘It’s time to commit.’”
As Good Hope’s football coach for the past eight years, Chris Moss knows better than most that student-athletes coming and going is just a part of high school sports. Still, he didn’t hide the fact he’ll miss Grigsby both on and off the field.
“We’re real proud of Josh. He’s a hard worker and a great kid. He’s been our leader,” Moss said. “We hate to see him go. We wish he could sign with us one more year.”
Grigsby’s ability to lead by example stuck out to the coach more than any other of his many positive traits.
“There were a lot of days where nobody wanted to be out there,” Moss said. “But he sort of pushed the kids and was a vocal leader. He’s just a great kid.”
The Raiders were 7-33 during Grigsby’s prep career. His final game in the ever-familiar Red and White resulted in a 21-12 road victory over West End on Nov. 2.
“I have probably learned more in these four years not only about football, but about life,” he said. “We haven’t had the best record over the past four years, but I’ve learned it’s not about records. It’s about how much effort you put in.”
Moss is hopeful Grigsby’s effort and dedication will encourage other members of the Good Hope football team to strive for similar goals and aspirations.
“Hopefully, with him taking this step, others will say, ‘Hey, I want to be like Josh. I want to push myself to be in that position one day,’” the coach said.
Grigsby is the third Raider to sign a scholarship this fall and fourth to pull off the feat in the last two years. Former All-State point guard Nina Mills is now suiting up for Martin Methodist College (Tenn.); senior Kayla Tillman inked a scholarship to attend and play women’s basketball at Faulkner University in October; and senior Cara Goodwin recently made her commitment official to join UAB’s rising softball program in 2013-14. Fellow Good Hope softball standouts Darcie Wilson and Alannah Henke are expected to raise that total to six by cementing their college plans in the near future.
“It’s good to see these kids go on,” Moss said. “Some of them think they want to do this or think they want to do that, but the ones that can push themselves to do it. That’s a special breed anywhere, not just at Good Hope. We’re real proud of Josh and hope the best for him.”
Grigsby isn’t counting out the idea of playing football professionally but is mostly concerned with receiving a quality education while continuing to play the sport he loves. He said he intends to study business and would one day like to own his own Chick-fil-A restaurant. Grigsby has worked at the chain’s Cullman location for nearly two years.
Campbellsville competes in the Mid-South Conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Tigers’ head coach is Perry Thomas, who led the team to a 3-8 record in 2012, his fifth year at the helm of the football program. Campbellsville compiled records of 7-4, 7-5 and 7-5 from 2009-11, earning berths to the National Christian College Athletic Association Victory Bowl twice over that span.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.