College Days: Russ Grimm

Each week throughout the 2013 season, Profootballhof.com recaps the college days of a pro football legend.


Russ Grimm
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010

Russ Grimm played center at the University of Pittsburgh and helped form one of the strongest offensive lines in college football. His play as the line’s anchor helped the Panthers to a 22-2 record over the 1979 and 1980 seasons, including a pair of Top 10 finishes in the polls. As a senior, he helped the team to an 11-1 mark and Pitt was selected by The New York Times computer poll as the country’s No. 1 team.

Grimm is one of eight former Pitt Panthers enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Nicknamed “Zim” while at the school, Grimm was the key protector of star quarterback, and future Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

“There were games when my uniform never got dirty,” Marino once remarked. “There were games when I never hit the ground. That’s incredible.”

Even though he accrued honorable mention All-American honors and earned roster spots for the East-West Shrine Game and Japan Bowl, center was not the position he planned to play in college.  At Scottdale High School in Pennsylvania, Grimm was a very good quarterback who also played linebacker and served as the team’s punter.

Recruiters for Pitt, however, preferred him to play linebacker. Grimm liked the idea and he signed with the Panthers. That quickly changed when he arrived at the school’s campus in 1977 and realized that there was a glut of players at the linebacker position. He also noticed that there was a need at center so Grimm made the switch. 

“I wanted to play,” stated Grimm when asked why he made the position change. “We needed depth at center.”

Not many players go from high school quarterback to college center, but that’s what Grimm did. He instantly hit the weight room and started eating. After arriving on the Pitt campus as a 205-pound freshman, Grimm entered his senior season at 272 pounds. In his final collegiate game, he helped lead the Panthers to a 37-9 Gator Bowl win over South Carolina.

By this point, Grimm was recognized as one of the nation’s best offensive linemen. NFL scouts had also noticed. As the 1981 NFL Draft approached, a few teams had Grimm listed as high as the 20th best prospect in the entire draft. In the end, he was taken by the Washington Redskins in the third round and was quickly shifted to left guard.

After earning All-Rookie honors, he went on to be recognized as the premier guard of his era. A member of Washington’s famed “Hogs” offensive line, Grimm appeared in five NFC championship games during his 11-year, 140-game career. He also helped the Redskins to four Super Bowl appearances including wins in Super Bowls XVII, XXII, and XXVI.

See Grimm's HOF Bio>>>


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