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Colin Grunhard, son of former Chiefs Pro Bowler, transferring to KU football

Matt Galloway
Topeka Capital-Journal
Colin Grunhard, a former standout center for Miege who was named a Top 11 pick by The Topeka Capital-Journal in 2016, announced Tuesday his intention to transfer to Kansas. Grunhard spent his first four collegiate seasons at Notre Dame.

LAWRENCE — A familiar name may prove just what Kansas football needs to shore up its long-struggling offensive line.

Colin Grunhard, a 6-foot, 290-pound center who spent his first four collegiate seasons at Notre Dame, announced Tuesday his intention to transfer to the Jayhawks. A Mission native, Grunhard is the son of Tim Grunhard, a former Pro Bowl center who spent his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs (1990-2000).

Grunhard, who has two years of eligibility remaining, announced his decision via Twitter.

"Excited to announce my commitment to the University of Kansas," wrote Grunhard, who joined consensus four-star prep wide receiver Quaydarius Davis as key Jayhawk pledges since New Year’s Day. "Can't wait to do everything I can to help KU win."

Before joining the Fighting Irish, Grunhard carved out quite a reputation locally.

A three-time state champion at Miege, Grunhard started every game of his high school career and was a finalist for the Bobby Bell Award, given annually to the Kansas City metro area’s top small-school lineman/linebacker. In 2016, Grunhard was named a Top 11 selection by The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Miege coach Jon Holmes recalled Grunhard as an “anchor” on his team’s offensive line.

“He brings that pro-type of mindset into that offensive line room right away, from getting those guys right off the field to making sure they’re doing everything right on the field. He’s a tremendous teammate,” Holmes told The Topeka Capital-Journal. “He was always that way with us and I think it was the same up at Notre Dame, just always one of those guys that’s going to bring the best out in other people, because he’s going to give his best effort every day.”

Holmes lauded Grunhard’s football IQ, labeling him “an extension of the coaching staff on the field.” And from a physicality standpoint, Grunhard can more than hold his own, Holmes said.

“When you watch his film from high school and you watch the film that he has from Notre Dame, he’s finishing blocks. He’s a guy that’s going to be down the field. He’s a guy that’s always going to be around the football,” Holmes said. “When you want a good offensive lineman, that’s what you want. You want a guy that’s going to play nasty, that’s going to play physical, and especially in the Big 12, because it’s not going to be easy to play that position he’s going to play. I think he understands that physicality he’s got to bring there.”

Grunhard appeared only sparingly during his tenure at Notre Dame, a walk-on blocked behind NFL-caliber talent most seasons for the powerhouse Fighting Irish. He should have no such problem at KU.

The Jayhawks last season allowed 5.2 sacks per game, ranked last in FBS in that category out of 127 eligible programs. KU's 104.9 rushing yards per game, meanwhile, slotted them 116th nationally, with the team mustering just 2.67 yards per carry across the nine-game season.

Tim Grunhard served as KU’s offensive line coach for two seasons (2012-13).

“Really he was an eighth grader and freshman in high school when his dad was coaching there, so I think (Colin) was old enough to remember being around there,” Holmes said. “I think he’s excited to be back and hopefully get that thing turned around in the right direction. ...

“I know he believes in that program."