Like most freshmen offensive linemen, Stephen Grommer will likely redshirt his first year of college to get stronger and become more physical.
The mental part of the game, however, shouldn't be as big of an issue for Grommer, a Maryland-bound offensive guard from Spartanburg, S.C.
A 3.9 student who picked the Terps over an offer from Harvard, Grommer spent his senior season showcasing his mental prowess in a variety of blocking schemes.
"He had a great year," said Spartanburg coach Freddie Brown, a former Wofford College player and assistant coach. "We asked him to do a whole bunch of stuff, and he graded in the mid-to-high 90s. He knows our stuff very well. He's the kind of kid that picks up things very quickly. So we were able to do all of our outside zone game, inside zone game, power game, screens where he would go out and block that guy. He made it all go for us up front. We're going to miss him."The Vikings, who lost four starters to ACL injuries, finished 5-7 with a first-round loss in the South Carolina Class AAAA Division I playoffs. Grommer, a right tackle at the varsity level, faced high-profile matchups against several Division I-bound players, including South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, a five-star prospect and Rivals.com's No. 1 player nationally for the 2011 class.
Brown said Grommer fared well in each test. The one play that stands out came in Spartanburg's season-ending loss to Irmo.
"There was a screen pass in the playoff game, and we asked him to go kick out in the flat," Brown said. "And he just backs up in his stance, flattens the lineman, hits the first guy and does it one better – he gets out to the second level and kind of hooks the guy outside the pad. The back had a clear path to the end zone. So he can do a little bit of everything."
A three-year starter on the offensive line, Grommer spent previous seasons playing defense as well. As a senior, however, Grommer was able to focus solely on offense. Spartanburg's blocking schemes varied on a game-to-game basis, but Brown made sure Grommer was exposed to as many different formations and calls as possible.
"For him, he's in a wing-T offense but he has power blocked," Brown said. "We ran a bunch of zone concepts and schemes, so he'll be very familiar with what Maryland is already doing. He's done those blocks. … Some [opponents] we were bigger than and we'd just load them up. He's a great drive blocker, so he can drive them off the ball and just dominate there. But he was able to really get out and run, get outside and hook the outside pad. He was able to do that because of his athleticism. It was based on our opponent. But he could do whatever we needed for that game. That was great to have."
Brown expects Grommer to have a smooth transition to college. His work ethic, exposure to several different blocking schemes and experience against high-level competition should serve him well in College Park.
"He's passionate about his future, whether it's football or academics," Brown said. "He's a leader in the locker room and he's a kid that's going to do things the right way. Maryland's building an ACC championship resume again, and they're recruiting the right kind of kid. With how they're playing, it looks like they're loading up again. … Because the college game is all about recruiting, you have to have the right kids – not so much the biggest and fastest and strongest. But you need to have the right kids. And he's one of those right kids."