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How KU wide receiver Luke Grimm reached 100 catches — and climbing

KU junior added 4 more receptions in Week 3 win over Nevada

5 min read
Kansas wide receiver Luke Grimm smiles after getting his helmet ripped off in the Jayhawks' win over Illinois on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. [Chance Parker photo]

Kansas offensive lineman Ar’maj Reed-Adams needed just five words to sum up the value he sees in teammate and friend Luke Grimm.

“He’s my dad’s favorite receiver,” Reed-Adams recently told R1S1 Sports about one of KU’s top options in the passing game.

The reasons for Lyonel Adams’ love of Grimm are many and go beyond the fact that he arrived at Kansas the same year as his son and has developed a strong bond as a member of the 2020 recruiting class that has been at the core of KU’s recent turnaround.

“He’s just so versatile and he’s always open,” Reed-Adams said of Grimm.

Reed-Adams and his father are Dallas Cowboys fans, and Reed-Adams said the current Kansas wideout reminds his father of former Cowboy Cole Beasley.

Both played in the slot. Both were tough as nails and both wore No. 11.

But while Beasley made his living specializing at that one specific position, Grimm has made his career as a man of many talents.

“His savviness as a route runner is what makes him the receiver that he is,” KU offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki said recently. “He is able to line up in every position, knows (them) inside and out. Knows all the positions and what they’re doing. Has a very diverse route-running tree. So, you can move and groove him.”

Grimm appreciates the love he gets for the way he plays the game and said his style and approach were born from a simple philosophy.

“You just want to be so good that they can’t not play you,” he said. “So, why not just try to get good at everything rather than be one-dimensional.”

He likened his versatility to a basketball player who can score at all three levels and play defense.

“Why be just a 3-point shooter,” he said.

Last week, in a win over Illinois, Grimm became just the 16th player in program history to eclipse 100 receptions for his career. On Saturday night, during the Jayhawks’ win at Nevada, Grimm hauled in 4 catches for 55 yards during KU's 31-24 victory and now has 104 receptions for his career, moving him past Isaac Byrd and into a tie for 14th place with Marcus Henry.

It’s been a wild journey for the undersized but over-talented receiver from Raymore, Missouri. While hearing throughout his childhood that he wasn’t big enough, fast enough, strong enough and tough enough to play major college football, Grimm just kept working.

“Everything that gets knocked against him is what makes him good,” KU coach Lance Leipold said of Grimm. “He uses that chip on his shoulder quite well. He’s not the biggest, he’s not the fastest, he’s not the strongest, but yet he’s the guy that’s going to show up making plays at the most important times because of that.”

The idea of making plays is what first attracted Grimm to the wide receiver position. But that was after he spent most of his childhood playing running back.

In fact, the first pass he ever caught in a live football game was on a swing pass out of the backfield in first grade. The first pass he ever caught as a wide receiver — in eighth grade — was on a classic slant. And his first reception at Kansas is one he still thinks about to this day.

“My first reception in college was against K-State, freshman year,” Grimm told R1S1 Sports. “It was on an inside seam. I remember that one just because my parents sent (a video of it) to me afterwards. They were all hyped up and I was like, ‘I could’ve scored on it.’ That was the only thing I cared about. I could’ve scored and I didn’t.”

There’ve been a whole bunch of catches since that one, and, last week, in KU’s win over Illinois, Grimm became just the 16th player in Kansas history to eclipse the 100-catch mark for his career.

Grimm, who still has another year of eligibility remaining after this season, has all kinds of time to continue to move up KU’s all-time receptions list. But no matter where he winds up — or when he gets there — the man they call The Grimm Reaper said reaching triple digits was meaningful.

“I think it’s cool for the fact that, whenever I have children, that’ll be something for them to look back on and say, ‘Oh, my dad did this,’” Grimm told R1S1. “It just seems like fun to someday be reminiscing on good times, all the things I went through growing up, all the people who said I couldn’t and wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing or where I am now. I’m doing it. And I can.”

Grimm has a realistic shot at finishing his KU career in fourth place on the Jayhawks’ receptions list. That spot currently belongs to Mark Simmons, who recorded 155 receptions from 2002-05.

The man in the No. 5 spot, with 148 career receptions, is a former teammate of Grimm’s and that, too, is something special for the current KU wideout. In fact, Grimm said he entered college looking up to former Jayhawk Kwamie Lassiter II and he loves that he’s still doing that to this day, both at KU and with Lassiter playing with the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL.

“The fact that I can try to chase him down in both aspects is really cool,” Grimm said.

Kotelnicki connected another set of dots between the two receivers.

“All the things I was saying about KJ two years ago, I would say the same things about Luke today,” Kotelnicki said.

Grimm said he loves KU’s offense because it offers something for everyone and anyone who plays in it is going to get the opportunity to make plays.

“He’s got a real good understanding of the offense and what to do to get open,” Leipold said, calling Grimm’s current status “mature confidence.” “His skill set really fits some of the things we like to do.”

Added Kotelnicki: “To see him for three years, there’s certainly been growth and development, but has he always had the fundamental understanding to get to where he’s at? For sure he has. And it’s a willingness to want to learn it and understand it.”

The 6-foot, 195-pound junior said his favorite route is “any one that scores” and that the routes he gets most excited to run are the six-step out route or an over route.

“Just because I know that if I’m catching it I have a chance to make someone miss and turn it into a really big play,” he said.
While Grimm’s goal every time he touches the ball is to do something memorable, he said his top concern is winning.

That trumps his individual stats. That trumps moving up on the receptions list. That trumps everything.

“It’d be awesome to climb up the list, but I’m not worried about it at all as long as we have success,” he said. “If we went 12-0 and won the Big 12 and won the national championship and I didn’t catch another ball, I wouldn’t be upset. I would be fine with it.”

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