Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It’s been a long, unusual trip to become Kansas State’s starting quarterback for sixth-year senior Grant Gregory.
After starting his career at Indiana, Gregory transferred to South Florida in 2005. He played behind Matt Grothe as the Bulls’ top backup the last two seasons before deciding to transfer to Kansas State during the spring.
Gregory finally got his chance as a starter last week, helping the Wildcats to a 24-23 victory over Iowa State in a game that wasn’t settled until the final minute of play.
Gregory talked about the travails of waiting for his chance, how he almost ended up playing at Eastern Kentucky earlier this season and the passion for football he developed growing up around the Army football program when his father was an assistant coach there.
Can you talk about your playing opportunities at three different colleges before you came to Kansas State?
Grant Gregory: There have been a lot of ups and downs for me. Mostly, they’ve been downs. But I’ve been a part of four bowl teams and I got to be a part of what we developed at South Florida over the years. It’s been a great journey for me. And just because I played on three different teams gave me a chance to experience more than a normal player might have done.
How have the offenses been different at all the colleges you've attended?
GG: Indiana was my first college offense. While I was there we were a basic two-back football team with a tailback and a fullback starting in the lineup. Then, when I got to South Florida, we started out as more of a running team with Andre Hall. Then Matt Grothe emerged and we started running a shotgun offense that was a very balanced offense. We did a lot of things there.
By the time I left South Florida, I felt like I learned a lot about a lot of different offenses. I probably watch as much football as any 23-year-old kid on television -- I watch all kinds of games. So I feel like I could run any offense if I was given the chance.
What led you to come to Kansas State?
GG: When Matt emerged as the starter, I understood he was a good player and I would end up being his backup. But I also knew I was going to apply for a sixth season as a senior, but I wasn’t sure if I would get the transfer year. I looked at mostly FBS schools who I knew had lost senior quarterbacks. I wanted to go where I would have a chance to play.
As such, most FBS schools wouldn’t have been interested in me. I found about 25 schools that fit my criteria that had a senior quarterback they were losing and where I felt I could play if I got a chance. And once I started looking around, I concentrated and finally originally decided on Eastern Kentucky and Towson State. And I was all set to go to Eastern Kentucky until I heard from Kansas State. Once I got a chance there, I decided to commit to them.
What was it like to finally get your chance to play, and more importantly, to lead your team to a victory in that first start last week?
GG: It was only one game, but that game was really something. I’m privileged to be on a team where I was able to contribute. That’s all I wanted to do this year -- and it happened for me.
In your first playing action with KSU, you struggled a little bit against Louisiana-Lafayette. How did you turn things around for your second opportunity last week in your start against the Cyclones?
GG: I knew that if I had a chance to play a whole ballgame, I was capable of making plays. I just didn’t want to screw up early so I would get benched. I knew if I ever had the chance to settle in, I would get in my comfort zone and do fine. And once things started, I got settled in nicely and that helped me.
What was it like to be able to engineer your team to a victory last week in its first conference game?
GG: I was so happy that I finally helped my team win. I’ve been on a lot of teams during my time in college. I always wanted to play team sports to contribute to helping my team win. And that game last week was the first time I’ve been able to really sense that since high school. It was the best feeling of my life.
Your father, Greg Gregory, was a veteran college assistant coach who worked as the offensive coordinator on the USF staff when you were there. Have you been leaning on him for expertise the last few weeks?
GG: He got a chance to watch the ISU game on television and told me right after the game that he was proud of me. But I got a text message a couple of days later at 6:30 a.m. telling me I’ve got to settle down and play smarter out there. When we're getting blitzes and having to check out of plays, he told me not to be idiot and just lead my team.
After your start, you told reporters about the passion you have for playing football. Where did that come from?
GG: Growing up for much of my childhood at West Point, where my dad was a coach at Army, had a huge impact on my life. The passion those guys have for the game is really something. They know they aren’t going to the NFL, but they still play for the sheer love of the game.
I’ve always considered myself a hard worker. But being around them when I was little made me learn that I never wanted to be that guy who didn’t work hard enough to do the most he could with his talents. I wanted to look back at my career and be proud of myself for what I’ve done. And I've tried to do that when I got my chance.