GameDay: Hroniss Grasu's impact on Oregon goes beyond the gridiron
Oregon center Hroniss Grasu will not be suiting up for the Ducks on Saturday.
Instead Grasu, who has played in 50 games for Oregon over his four-year career, will be forced to watch from the sideline for his final game at Autzen Stadium.
In preparation for the game against Colorado, Grasu is reminiscing on the experiences he has had, rather than focusing on missing the final game in his home stadium.
“I’m doing whatever I can to get back as soon as I can,” Grasu said. “But not being able to play on senior night, I had a lot of great memories in Autzen and this Saturday will still be another great memory for me.”
On Tuesday morning, Grasu, wearing a boot on his left foot, emerged after practice riding a green medical knee scooter to help him maneuver the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. Though he wasn’t on the field for practice, Grasu’s impact was still felt amongst the team.
“He’s been awesome,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “He’s going to continue to get healthy. He’s going to take it one game at a time and he’s going to find ways to get better, but at the same time he’s still out there and he’s still Hroniss. He’s going to find ways to get people to hear his voice and find ways to get people to listen to him. We’re very fortunate to have that. Hroniss is one of those guys we really look up to.”
Head coach Mark Helfrich said that his team is “the luckiest group of guys in the country” to be associated with Grasu on a daily basis.
“His contributions, on and off the field, have been so significant in some ways known and some ways unknown,” Helfrich said. “The thing you can say about that guy is that he’s an unbelievable teammate. In every facet of what that means.”
Grasu said that he has been in constant communication with doctors as he’s taking a day-by-day approach to his recovery. Though he ruled himself out for the game against Colorado, he noted that he’s not finished playing this year.
“This season is not over for me and it’s not over for the team,” Grasu said.
On Saturday, 17 seniors will be playing in their final home game for the Ducks. The Autzen Stadium swan song will be a sentimental moment for the Ducks head coach.
“It’ll be hard,” Helfrich said. “It’ll be really hard, but it’s hard because it’s been great. It’s hard for all the right reasons.”
For Mariota, seeing his teammates play in their final game is a perk from making the choice to return to school this past offseason.
“I’ve made a lot of close friends in the senior class — a lot of guys that I really look up to,” Mariota said. “It’s going to be one of those times — it’ll be bittersweet obviously — but at the same time it’ll be one of those experiences that you come back to school for and you get to enjoy. To see those guys go off as one of the most successful classes in Oregon football history, it’s pretty cool.”
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @JoeJHoyt