TUCSON AZ - OCTOBER 23: Runningback Nic Grigsby #5 of the Arizona Wildcats celebrates after scoring on a 4 yard rushing touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the second quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on October 23 2010 in Tucson Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Nine days ago Nic Grigsby was unemployed, still awaiting the end of the NFL lockout for a chance to talk to potential suitors.
Since then, the once injury-prone Arizona back has taken tips from Reggie Bush, hit the film room with seven-year veteran fullback Lousaka Polite, played dominoes with "the guys" every night after practice, and most importantly, signed a three-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.
According to Grigsby, he's been ‘ballin' through five full days of training camp and even broke some ankles during a Monday night team scrimmage.
"I balled out," a never-bashful Grigsby said in a phone interview from the Dolphins' locker room after the scrimmage. "Big cutback plays, putting guys on skates, you know."
Although he's still "competing with other backs to play," Grigsby has officially made it to the NFL. The illusive back signed with the Dolphins last Monday as he chose the Dolphins over the Rams, Texans, Cowboys and Raiders, completing the first phase of a lifelong NFL dream
"You sit back every day, grinding and grinding and grinding and then it happens," Grigsby said of making it to the NFL. "It's surreal. It's a blessing and stuff but it's not over yet. I still got to grind every day, day in day out. Beat up my feet. It's never ending, you've got to go no matter what. All day every day."
Grigsby will sit behind at least Bush and second-round pick and former Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas on the depth chart. But Grigsby found the running back situation in Miami much more favorable than his other options, especially with No. 1 back Ronnie Brown signing with the Eagles on Tuesday.
His final decision ultimately came down to two teams: the Rams and the Dolphins, who were "calling him throughout the whole draft," yet chose to fill needs rather than draft Grigsby. But Grigsby still chose the Dolphins' run-heavy, Wildcat-capable offense over a Rams team that plays workhouse Steven Jackson "90 percent of the time."
"The Dolphins are a run-first offense and plus they go multiple backs," Grigsby said. "They brought in Reggie Bush to be a spark plug too so we're working on different formations that could get us both in space, or any of our guys in space. Our team is young and I just saw it as a great opportunity for me.
"They said they're trying to get fresh and have more excitement on offense," Grigsby added. "They needed a spark plug so they said it would be a great opportunity for me to come out and show what I can do."
Grigsby made the right choice if he hopes to see the field his rookie season, not to mention he'll be able to wear No. 23 (his freshman number at UA) now that Brown's in Philadelphia.
Although he has no guarantees in terms of playing time, Grigsby expressed full confidence in his ability to be more than just a third-down back. He's added almost 20 pounds of muscle since January while maintaining the speed that made him a home-run hitter at the collegiate level.
He said he played at about 188 pounds at Arizona, but weights 206 now thanks to rigorous training in Phoenix during the lockout. He's bigger, stronger and poised to withstand the wear and tear that comes with the NFL.
"I'm not just going to be a third-down back. I can run through the hole, run between the tackles, I still have great speed, catch the ball pretty well out of the backfield," Grigsby said. "People are going to say, oh he's a screen back in college so he's going to be a draw player, screen catcher, but they don't really know what they're talking about."
The Whittier, Calif., product is out to prove those people wrong. The NFL looked unlikely after Grigsby limped his way through the last two seasons of his Arizona career.
But the Dolphins took notice of his big-play potential, and Grigsby is on cloud nine. Living in South Beach and learning from Bush with an opportunity to earn playing time next season. What could be better?
"It's crazy man," Grigsby said of being in the NFL. "You always see them on TV, play with them on Madden. It's crazy man we all sit in the locker room every day. Hopefully I'm here for three years and I ball out here and make things happen over here in South Beach."