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HILL: Grossman ready to shine at Challenge

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Randy Hill

Veteran columnist Randy Hill is a frequent contributor to FOXSports.com.
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SAN DIEGO

It's a question that has sparked bitter reasoning among high-ranking nerds: Who would triumph in a showdown involving one grizzly bear and a solo TD-Rex? If the grizzlies are represented by the irrepressible Monte, bearkind wins in a rout. If the TD-Rex on hand is that Grossman kid from Florida, he'd probably decline the skirmish anyway. For the record, Monte is the ranking grizzly at the University of Montana and recent champion in a Capital One-sponsored interpretation of the mascot Heisman. While Monte hangs — upside down — from the door frame, I'm witnessing this confrontation in a seafood restaurant located about two deep post patterns north of the NFL's Super Bowl headquarters. Grossman — who just survived Monte's pass-rush pantomime — is studying a menu, flanked by other quarterbacks named and . These Downtown Athletic Club refugees will be among the hotshots competing in the fifth annual Capital One College Football All-Star Challenge, scheduled for TV presentation Sunday on (ta-da!) FOX Sports. "I just want to go out there to compete and show people that I can throw the ball a little bit," says the polite and accessible Grossman, whose businesslike demeanor is replicated by Dorsey and Banks. So — despite the free grub, great weather and abject terror that the bounding Monte instills among tray-hauling waiters — the quarterbacks seem a bit reserved. Grossman, No. 2 in the Heisman derby of his sophomore season, experienced relative team and individual slumps as a junior. He since has enlisted in the NFL Draft and is not here to chuck bread at route-running mascots. Dorsey presided over a Miami winning streak that received damning interference from in the Fiesta Bowl. Banks quarterbacked Iowa into the Orange Bowl, where the Hawkeyes were annihilated by USC. Monte appears to be the only national champion in the room. Thanks to a flight delay for wide-receiving monster , the highest-ranking non-mascot in the room is Grossman. Monte may not be able to really get to him, but I did. Before revealing Grossman's game plan for Capital One and NFL glory, here's the statistical preamble: TD-Rex's disappointing junior season included 22 touchdown passes, 3,402 yards and a streak of 118 passes without an interception. Unfortunately, this roll occurred a few months after coach Steve Spurrier had taken a fun run to the NFL and the Gators were obliged to learn a new system. "Our team just wasn't as good," Rex of the junior swoon. "With a new system it just takes a while. There were some growing pains." Yeah, the start was painful, but Grossman rallied enough to convince draft experts that he's ready for several months of Sundays. Mel Kiper Jr., the cat with the 10-gallon hair, lists Rex as the No. 10 prospect on his overall Big Board. It also would be foolish for draft scientists to ignore what Grossman accomplished as a sophomore:
  • 3,896 passing yards
  • 34 touchdown passes (with 12 interceptions, compared to 17 as a junior)
  • a completion percentage of 65.6
  • a nation-leading quarterback rating of 170.75
Monte? Well, the mascot can moonwalk, stick the landing on spotter-free back flips and ride a motorcycle with more dexterity than a fez-wearing old man on a scooter. After the Cap One Challenge, Grossman will gather his numbers, tuck them away and resume preparations for the NFL Combine. The NFL Combine, by the way, is the beauty pageant of pro football's talent pool. While parked on its runway, draft prospects are subjected to aesthetic indignities that eventually may include the wearing of a sanitation-guaranteed toilet lid sash. "I don't know a whole lot about it," Grossman says of the Combine. "I just want to be ready for the physical side and the mental side." The mental side seems like a perfect arena for input from Spurrier, who — as UF's faculty visor — was a down-home Yoda of pitch-and-catch expertise. "I talk to him all the time," Grossman says of Spurrier. The old ball coach probably has additional wisdom to impart after one prickly season in the NFL, right? "Not really," Rex says. "We usually talk about how we're both doing; there's not much football advice because he knows I'll be ready." But even though Grossman is on Kiper's A-list and the own the draft's 13th pick, don't expect a Gator reunion. "They (Redskins) took a quarterback (Patrick Ramsey of ) in the first round last year," Grossman says. "I doubt that, politically, they could take another one this year." Such progressive thinking is evidence that Rex is developing a fine mental edge. Charged with the physical side of Grossman's professional preparation is Steve DeBerg, a former Dick Clark among NFL quarterbacks. "I'm working out twice a day," Rex says. "I just want to be in the best shape possible. I have to get stronger and faster for the Combine, while working on timing and a quicker release." The Grossman arm is not a problem. At 6-foot-1 and a sturdy 220 pounds, a Frisbee date with Rex might convince a dog to beg for a mouthpiece. "I really think arm strength is crucial for making all of the throws required in an NFL offense," says Grossman, who will welcome the opportunity to learn any NFL offense that's offered. "Any team is fine with me," Grossman says, although he wouldn't mind staying in Florida. Staying in Florida as an amateur was an option that Rex didn't close lightly. "If I had stayed at Florida, I really think we would have had a great team," Grossman, who will be 23 in August, says. "It (entering the draft) was a huge decision, the biggest decision of my life." And why did he choose to leave? "Because I have the opportunity to play in the NFL." That opportunity was blessed by timing; being ranked among the draft's top three quarterbacks now doesn't guarantee the same status a year from now. "I just had to make an educated guess on how high I would go," Grossman says. The next decision lurks on the menu. Salmon or halibut? Cheeseburger or yellowtail? With Monte still on the prowl, quarterback concentration is up for grabs. Anticipating a Monte bump-and-run that doesn't occur, a waiter dodges toward the patio door. A glass is on the cusp of compromise, but the waiter is quick. Consider it the catch of the day. Randy Hill can be reached at his e-mail address, rhill@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Redskins

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