Emerging KU football wideout Luke Grimm foresees big leap forward for Jayhawks
LAWRENCE — It’s fair to say Luke Grimm has exceeded the expectations that most had for the wide receiver entering his first season at Kansas, a bright spot in an otherwise, well, grim season.
Grimm, however, is more focused on long-term goals, aspirations that he says are universal among a bold Jayhawk freshman class that’s dreaming big.
“We want to win the Big 12 and we want to get to the College Football Playoff and win as many games as we can within these next three to four years,” Grimm said, “and just have as much fun together as we can.”
That staggering list of objectives is expressed almost daily in a group chat of Jayhawk gets from the Class of 2020, a haul that also includes other first-year contributors such as quarterback Jalon Daniels, cornerbacks Karon Prunty and Duece Mayberry, running back Daniel Hishaw and offensive linemen Armaj Adams-Reed, Garrett Jones and Bryce Cabeldue.
It’s Grimm, though, that perhaps best embodies the kind of recruiting hits head coach Les Miles and staff need to make to right the ship at KU.
“I don’t think there’s much that he can’t do,” Miles said of Grimm. “He’s very fast, comfortable, has balance and the ability to catch balls and snatch balls that are very difficult. ... He came in and was in our camp (in 2019), we saw him, liked him. We knew it was just a matter of time.”
Forced into action following injuries to Stephon Robinson and Lawrence Arnold, Grimm has more than met the moment. The 6-foot, 176-pound former three-star recruit out of Raymore-Peculiar (Mo.) High School has amassed 13 catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns across his first four contests, grabbing at least four receptions and 50 yards in each of the Jayhawks’ last three matchups.
Grimm was at his best in his most recent outing, snagging four catches for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns in KU’s 59-23 defeat to TCU last Saturday at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Grimm’s second score came on a 21-yard jaw-dropper that saw the wide-open wideout simultaneously corral a poorly placed pass and tap both feet about an inch away from the out-of-bounds area.
“I call him ‘The Grimm Reaper.’ I saw Grimm Reaper’s first touchdown and I was pretty excited about that,” said sophomore safety Kenny Logan. “Going against him each day in practice he always gives you something different. Luke’s going to be a great player. ... He’s savvy. He’s a savvy kid.”
Miles labeled Grimm’s second touchdown “a spectacular play.”
“I think Luke Grimm’s night was just a big night,” Miles said Saturday, “period.”
Grimm’s emergence is no fluke.
He caught KU coaches’ eyes at a Jayhawk summer camp ahead of his high school senior season, and on June 1, 2019, Grimm received a scholarship offer ... from defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. Grimm almost exclusively played defensive back at that camp but was told his collegiate position would be decided at a later date, and when that date came, the Jayhawks landed on wide receiver.
Grimm orally committed on June 18, 2019. He reopened his recruitment on Dec. 18, but just two days later, Grimm put his name to a national letter of intent with the Jayhawks.
Still, there was more work to be done.
Grimm spent part of this past spring and summer working out with renowned area conditioning coach Joseph Potts at TopSpeed Strength & Conditioning in Lenexa, where he improved his footwork, positioning and body. At workouts, Grimm caught passes from former KU quarterback Carter Stanley and went up against former Jayhawk safety Bryce Torneden and other ex-Division I defensive backs.
Upon his arrival on campus, Grimm didn’t expect to have much of a role in Year 1. He foresaw contributions on special teams, an assignment he embraced. But injuries to the senior Robinson and the freshman Arnold changed that trajectory. On Oct. 24, Grimm made his first catch, a 28-yarder, in a 55-14 home defeat to Kansas State.
It’s been onward and upward ever since for Grimm, a player Miles on Monday labeled “as talented” as some of the most prolific wide receivers he coached at “the last place.” That place, of course, was LSU, and those players? Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Dwayne Bowe, just to name a few (though Miles didn’t).
“I think Luke Grimm has similar attributes — speed, ball skills (and is) very capable,” Miles said. “He also is a guy that is going to play the game. In other words he’s going to enjoy competition, he’s going to enjoy the opportunities that he’s given. I think he can be given more and more.”
Grimm has already piled up his share of first-season highlights, but his favorite play to date in Year 1 is both an unexpected one and, after it over, quite fitting.
He revisited the Jayhawks' 52-22 defeat to Iowa State on Oct. 31 in Lawrence, a game where he hauled in four catches for 53 yards. But it was another Jayhawk player's moment, Hishaw's 5-yard touchdown run, that Grimm cherishes most. On that play, Grimm blocked a corner into a safety, creating space for Hishaw to find the end zone.
“I thought it was a big hit. It sounded like a big hit on TV. I thought it was cool to see,” Grimm said. “... I’d say blocking is more important than catching and running routes because at the end of the day if we don’t move off the line of scrimmage then we can’t do anything. I think coming here during fall camp to now my blocking has gotten a lot better, but I still think I’ve got plenty to improve.”
As do the Jayhawks (0-8, 0-7 Big 12), who enter their 11 a.m. Saturday matchup with Texas Tech (3-6, 2-6) desperate for a win.
Whether that first victory for Grimm comes in one of KU’s final two games or in 2021, don’t expect him — nor any of his true freshman teammates, for that matter — to stop obsessing about a future they believe has limitless potential.
“We talk about it every day (of) every week, just how we’re ready to get better every day, day-in and day-out,” Grimm said, “whether that’s in the weight room, in the practice facility or on the football field.”
KANSAS AT TEXAS TECH
Kickoff: 11 a.m. Saturday, Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
Records: Kansas 0-8, 0-7 Big 12, Texas Tech 3-6, 2-6 Big 12
Line: Texas Tech by 27½
TV/radio (Topeka): FS2/KWIC-FM (99.3)
Up next for KU: vs. Texas, 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12, David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence