Sam Gruber| Glenelg High School | OL | 2021
Q: Tell us about your high school career and what the recruiting process has been like thus far.
A: Unfortunately during my first two years of high school I was only able to play in one football game due to surgeries on both my left and right labrum (shoulders). In my junior year I started all 11 games at the right tackle position, and was selected for 2nd Team All-County. The recruiting process has been a little slow so far, as I only have one season of film, and the cancellation of the college summer camps due to the pandemic.
Q: When did you receive your first offer and what school was it from? How many offers have you received thus far?
A: I have not received any offers.
Q: What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your sports career so far?
A: I was extremely lucky to be a part of a state championship winning lacrosse team my sophomore year. In terms of football, it meant a lot to be voted by coaches around the county to an all-county team this past year, as it was validation of the hard work that I put in after my surgeries. But, in my mind, team success is always greater than individual success, making the state championship what I would consider my biggest accomplishment.
Q: What do you consider to be one of the more important things you learned from the coaching staff while playing at your school?
A: How to be part of a team, and more specifically a unit. On the offensive line, you are only as strong as your weakest link. How you play as an individual is reflected onto the line as a whole, so you must have personal accountability and want to play for your brothers beside you. Our coaches have done a fantastic job at bolstering relationships between team members, which leads to stronger accountability, through team dinners, film study, player led post-practice conditioning, and summer workouts. We are always told that no one play is above another, as we all represent the same team equally in the community.
Q: What have you learned during this unique time in 2020? What did you focus on or accomplish during Quarantine?
A: My main focus during quarantine was to not let my grades slip. My main goal going into junior year was to earn straight A’s, as I believe the stronger you are as a student, the more doors will be open to you as an athlete. I was able to maintain my grades, and finished the school year with straight A’s (4.5 GPA). Another goal of mine going into junior year was to increase my weight from 235 to 265 lbs. I began working with a nutritionist in October, as well as a trainer 5 days a week after the season ended, to focus on putting on good, healthy weight. This has continued through quarantine, and I am now over 260 lbs.
Q: If you could play in college, what would you choose to major in? What are your plans if football doesn’t work out?
A: I would most likely choose to major in History or Political Science, as I wish to pursue a law degree after I graduate. My parents have always stressed the importance of academics to me, and while I hope to utilize football to open up opportunities at fantastic universities for myself, if it doesn’t work out I plan to still attend college with my sights set on eventually attending law school.
Q: What would your current teammates say about you and your qualities?
A: I would hope that my teammates would describe me as a passionate player, a strong leader, and most importantly a good person. I always try to play with emotion on the field, lead both by example and with my voice in every facet of my life, and be a caring, inclusive, and decent person in everything I do.
Q: What has been one of the most memorable plays of your career so far?
A: The most memorable play I have been a part of was when we beat Smyrna (DE) last year on a 53 yard Hail Mary as time expired. I had a great pass contain on the play, which allowed our quarterback time to make the throw, but that was not nearly as exciting as getting to share the joy of that moment with my teammates.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how do you manage it?
A: I have had two shoulder surgeries since entering high school, the first in September 2017, and the second in August 2018. The process of rehabbing both of these injuries was the most challenging thing I ever had to do, both mentally and physically. I was able to manage these by having a fantastic support system around me to help me manage everything that came with these processes, as well as just trying to maintaining focus on what was important, which was getting healthy and working towards getting back out on the field.
Q: If you could compare yourself to a collegiate or pro athlete, who would that be and why?
A: Being a lineman from Maryland, I would have to compare myself to Marshal Yanda. Yanda was a constant anchor and leader of Baltimore’s offensive line for as long as I have been watching the Ravens. While it’s hard to pick out and remember the specific greatness of a lineman, much of it comes in what you do not remember. Yanda was an anchor, he wouldn’t let up sacks, he wouldn’t get bad penalties, he wouldn’t make hot headed statements to the media, and because of that he was a well respected captain of his team, and a Super Bowl champion. As a lineman it is often said you are doing a thankless job, but as a lineman that is what you strive for. You will always receive praise from your fellow linemen, backs, and coaches, but if you are handling business and doing your job correctly, the crowd should never even have to notice you’re there.
Q: What is your biggest strength and why should college coaches & scouts consider you?
A: I pride myself as being a strong leader, and a good teammate. I think it is important to lead not only with your words, but by example. Words are meaningless without actions to support them. At the same time, I would never put myself above one of my teammates just because I view myself as a “leader”. No one person is more important than the team as a whole, no matter their status on the team.
Q: Are you involved in mentoring, a charity or do you “give back”/”pay it forward” in your community?
A: This past year I was a part of Gladiators on the Horizon at my high school, a mentorship program that pairs an upperclassman with several new students (primarily freshman), to act as a mentor as they make the transition into high school.
Q: How are you preparing for the 2020 High School National Scouting Combine and what are your goals for the combine?
A: I have been working out with my trainer 5 days a week on the field, and in the gym as allowed, to improve my speed, agility, strength, and explosiveness. I hope to just show how much I have changed and improved over the last 9 months since the season ended.
Q: What would be your ultimate achievement?
A: My ultimate achievement would be to play football in college, graduate with a degree in a field that I am passionate about, and find work in a meaningful job that allows me to travel and possibly experience living in another country.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when not playing football? Do you play other sports?
A: I enjoy hiking, golfing, swimming, listening to all kinds of music, and playing video games with my friends. I do not currently play any other sports, as I gave them up to focus fully on my goal of playing college football, but I played travel basketball until high school, and played club/travel lacrosse until last year.
Q: Who is or has been the most influential person in your life?
A: Myy youth football coach, Alex Pagnotta. I stopped playing football earlier in middle school, and I was brought back into it when I was in 8th grade by Coach Pagnotta, who renewed my love for the game that season. That season was so impactful in renewing my passion for the game, that even when I missed my next two seasons due to injury, I knew that football was the game that I loved and what I wanted to pursue. Without Coach Pagnotta I would not be on this journey I am on today.
Q: What is something unique about you that people would find interesting?
A: One of my favorite things to do with my dad is watch Jeopardy. We sometimes do it as an entire family, but I am the only one that can seem to compete with him when we make it a competition. I have always just been naturally curious, and as a result of that I have acquired a ton of knowledge of seemingly random subjects, which bodes me well in trivia competitions.
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