Colin Grunhard stays close to home, picks KU
The Kansas coaches made it clear in the off-season they wanted to improve the offensive line through the transfer portal.
On Tuesday they did just that.
Notre Dame transfer Colin Grunhard announced he was making the move back home and will play for the Jayhawks. He entered the portal on Saturday morning and received a lot of calls from college coaches ranging from the Big 12, Big 10, ACC, SEC, and MAC.
Grunhard was looking for the best fit for football and a place that would help in life after that.
“I think KU offers a lot of opportunities, both academically and athletically for me, especially because I want to end up working in Kansas City when I'm done with everything,” Grunhard said. “I think the KU business school has a lot of good alumni connections in Kansas City. So, that was a major thing.”
Over the last three years he appeared in 14 games for Notre Dame. He was coached well and part of one of the best offensive lines in college football. At Kansas he will get the chance to play more snaps and bring veteran leadership to the program.
“I've practiced for four years to play football,” he said. “I want to get back out on the field and contribute early in games and often. I want to be playing football again instead of just practicing. I think KU gives me an opportunity to do both of those things. It's just a great location and close to home. I drove yesterday nine hours in the car, and I could go to Lawrence right now in 40 minutes. So just those things altogether made it pretty easy for me.”
During his time at Notre Dame, Grunhard mentioned several players he practiced with every day that went to the NFL. He’s been in the trenches with some of the best players, learned from them, worked with them and will bring that experience to Kansas.
“I've learned so much at Notre Dame,” Grunhard said. “I went in there as a walk-on freshman that had a decent high school career and had a lot of fun playing the game. I learned so much from my freshman year, guys like Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson. My sophomore year was Alex Bars, Sam Mustipher who both start with the Bears. The last couple of years with Liam Eichenberg, Rob Hainsey, Aaron Banks, and Tommy Kraemer, are all guys that are going to play in the league.
“Those are all guys that I got to work with every day and do drills with, watch film with, and just kind of understand the game to the full extent with. I think that was very, helpful and really helped me grow as a football player and a human.”
Grunhard earned a scholarship for the 2019 season where eventually played in seven games for the Irish.
He played his high school football under Jon Holmes at Bishop Miege where he was All-State and started 50 consecutive games. He won the Frank Fontana Award for the best small class player in Kansas City. Grunhard was part of three state titles for Bishop Miege.
His father Tim is familiar with Kansas. He coached the offensive line for two years at KU and enjoyed a successful playing career at Notre Dame and the Kansas City Chiefs. Tim and his wife, Sarah, live in Kansas City and will have a much shorter drive to watch Colin play.
“My parents got out to South Bend a good amount, but I'm sure they're pretty tired of driving nine hours,” Grunhard said. “Obviously I have a lot of friends that go to KU from high school. I also have teammates from high school that are going to KU for school. And then I have teammates that I played with in high school that are also playing at KU, like Dylan Downing.
“So, there's a lot of family connections and it seems like everyone in Kansas City has someone that went to KU or has some sort of connection with KU. It will be very helpful in the long run for sure.”
Kansas recruiting coordinator Josh Eargle reached out to Grunhard on Saturday after he entered the portal. Over the next couple days, he also spoke with offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon and new offensive line coach Lee Grimes. The final call came with Les Miles.
“Eargle is a very enthusiastic guy and cares a lot,” he said. “He's been on me ever since I got in the portal. He seemed very excited. Then I got to talk to Coach Dearmon and you can tell he loves the game and is very interested in helping KU win.
“Talking to Coach Grimes, the line coach, we have a lot of the same language already. We were talking about outside zone schemes, what calls you make, what we're going to do against this and that. It just seems right. Coach Grimes, he's a younger guy. He's brings a lot of passion to the room. I'm just excited about it.”
Grunhard is completing the process of getting into the Kansas MBA program and plans to report to campus on January 24. When he told the coaches of his decision, he said they were excited. He’s ready to get the next chapter of his career started and will have two years of eligibility at Kansas.
“It feels great,” Grunhard said. “I was never one for big recruiting stuff coming out of high school, and quickly I realized how much I didn't like it coming out the second time. I wanted to find something fast and that's right for me. It takes a lot of weight off my chest and lets me focus on enjoying the next couple weeks off and get my body right, my mind right, and get ready for two more seasons of football.”