Brandon Grubbe finds home at IU, with help from ex-coach Kirk Kennedy
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent August 21, 2012 10:12PM
Stephanie Dowell/Post-Tribune Lowell's Brandon Grubbe waits for officials to call the Red Devils' only touchdown in the third quarter of thier state finals game in Indianapolis November 28, 2009. ptspt
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:25AM
Brandon Grubbe wanted a change.
The 2010 Lowell grad was the scout team player of the year as a true freshman at Butler. As a redshirt freshman last fall, he was the Bulldogs’ fourth-leading rusher (144 yards) and even threw a touchdown pass.
But he wasn’t happy.
“He didn’t feel like there was a lot to play for, he didn’t feel challenged,” his former high school coach, Kirk Kennedy, recalled, noting Butler’s football standing in the Pioneer Football League.
“It just didn’t work out for me (at Butler),” Grubbe said.
The two talked over the winter about what Grubbe wanted to accomplish in college; not just in football, but academically.
“He mentioned the medical field; the first two schools that came to my mind were the University of Indianapolis and IU,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy had an in, of sorts, with IU. As the coach at Bloomington South, he had come to know the Hoosiers’ new coaching staff.
And he knew the Hoosiers — 1-11 in Kevin Wilson’s first season last fall — needed plenty of football players after many players had left the program.
“The more we talked, the more interested he sounded in talking to IU,” Kennedy said.
“I asked him to put in a good word for me,” Grubbe said in recalling Kennedy’s sales pitch to the IU coaches.
Kennedy said he didn’t have to sell Grubbe’s talents too hard.
“Brandon’s not a hard sell. First of all, he’s a great kid. He’s a great student, a hard worker, with a lot of character,” Kennedy said.
Grubbe enrolled at IU in time to take summer classes in Bloomington and to participate in summer workouts.
The all-time leading rusher for the Red Devils, Grubbe’s been moved to a different position at IU — linebacker.
“When I came in, I asked them what was the best place for me to play, that’s where they put me,” Grubbe said.
“I think his natural position is more of a strong safety, weakside linebacker type,” Kennedy said, although Grubbe was Lowell’s starting tailback for three years and played a lot of corner in high school. “I told him, if you want to take a shot at D-I (football), you’ll probably have to do it as a defensive player.”
Grubbe’s quickly learned the Indiana playbook. But in his role on the scout team for fall camp, his focus has been on mimicking Indiana State’s defense. The Hoosiers face the Sycamores in the season opener on Sept. 1.
Grubbe is ineligible to play this season because of NCAA transfer rules, and he’s not certain the Hoosiers will keep him at linebacker.
Either way, he’s happy with his new surroundings.
“School’s school,” he said when asked to compare IU to Butler. “The classes are a lot bigger.”
Grubbe’s looking to get bigger himself, in hopes of being a competitor in the Big Ten next season.
“I’ve put on some weight, I’m about 210 (pounds) right now,” he said. “My strength’s OK, but a little more can’t hurt.”
“He’s a fierce competitor,” Kennedy said. “I think he made the right choice.”