SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tyler Grisham has been preparing to be a wide receivers coach and believed the time would come when he would get that chance.
However, Grisham did not think he would be the receivers coach at Clemson. In fact, after six years as part of Dabo Swinney’s support staff, Grisham was bracing to leave the program for a better opportunity elsewhere.
“I told my wife, Maggie, that I felt like a change was going to happen, but I wasn’t expecting here,” Grisham said to The Clemson Insider on Thursday during the Fiesta Bowl media day at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn.
“I know Coach Jeff Scott and Coach (Tony) Elliott, they’ve had opportunities the past number of years, and can’t blame them for not taking what wasn’t right. When you’re at Clemson, it’s the best place to be. So I told her, I said, ‘Listen, we’ve got to be prepared to leave. We really do,’ and I was expecting to leave this year.”
Instead, it is Scott who is moving on and Grisham who is staying at Clemson to become the Tigers’ 10th full-time assistant.
Swinney named Grisham his new receivers coach earlier this month after Scott took the head coaching job at South Florida.
Grisham makes sense as the choice for Swinney, as he was recruited to Clemson by Swinney, played for Swinney from 2005-08 and has worked on Swinney’s staff the last six seasons as an offensive analyst.
“It’s an extreme honor for Coach Swinney to trust me to put me in that role,” Grisham said. “My alma mater, it’s a school I love. I have the Clemson DNA. I played for Coach Swinney, and then to be a part of this staff for now six years – this is my sixth season – I know what we’re about. So, to coach now the position that Coach Swinney coached me and I played, again, it’s surreal.
“It hasn’t fully hit me yet. It really hasn’t. Haven’t had time to really let it kind of sink in. But man, it’s unbelievable. So thankful, so blessed and excited to get going in the spring, really kind of make it my own and get to know the guys more. Yeah, there’s a lot I can say, but very excited.”
Grisham worked with Scott when he was a graduate assistant for two years and then transitioned to the analyst role and continued to work with the receivers. The past year and a half or so, Grisham has worked with the tight ends, which he says has been good for his development in helping him learn more about the offense overall.
“I have a greater understanding of our offense now than I would have if it weren’t for that,” he said.
All the while, Grisham has been preparing to be a receivers coach, and that is evident by the PowerPoint he created over time which is 70-something pages long — something he has planned to show his wideouts whenever they have their first meetings.
“I have a lot that I’ve put down on paper and been able to think about my philosophy,” Grisham said. “Being around Coach Scott, Coach Elliott, Coach Swinney, you have so much that you’ve learned. It’s amazing the knowledge I’ve gained about the sport, but also just the personal development I’ve received here has been unbelievable.”
Still, Grisham did not expect to get his shot as the receivers coach for “Wide Receiver U” but believes he now has the best receivers coach gig in the country.
“For sure I’ve been preparing to coach, whether that be here or anywhere else, and again, it’s unbelievable that it’s here,” he said. “It really is. I could not be happier. This is the premier position, wide receiver coach, in all of college football. I believe that. Wide Receiver U for a reason. So, I don’t take that lightly. I know that’s a big deal. But yeah, I’ve been preparing and I’ll be ready to go.”
Grisham was able to start getting acclimated to his new role during the week of the early signing period (Dec. 18-20) when the Tigers held practices for the Fiesta Bowl in Clemson and Scott was away from the team to begin his transition as USF’s head coach.
“The past week when Coach Scott went to South Florida, I was the guy,” Grisham said. “I had to step in, and thankfully the NCAA allowed me to kind of be the receivers coach for that week. Got my feet wet, had a blast, was exhausted throwing balls, running routes, showing the guys kind of what I wanted, how to run routes, etcetera. Had a blast. To get my feet wet was really great, so come spring, the guys know my coaching style, I’ll feel more comfortable, it’ll be an easier transition for me and for those guys. So, it was a blast.”
After finishing his playing career at Clemson, Grisham was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and went on to win a Super Bowl with the team that season. He also played with future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos in 2012.
Grisham believes his experience in the NFL will serve him well as he works with future NFL talent at Clemson.
“I had a great experience,” Grisham said of his stint in the league. “Was undrafted to Pittsburgh and was a part of a great team. It was funny, I played my last four games my rookie year, and man, high on the hog – all right, year two, let’s go. Well, then they draft Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, and they were better than me. Just flat-out better than me, and that’s just how it works. So, I never saw the field again. Went to Denver my last year and was with Peyton Manning. I grew up a Tennessee fan, my wife went to Tennessee, so that was really cool for me to be around Peyton in that 2012 season, his first year in Denver, and really got to watch him and see a pro just go about his business.
“So, I’ve been around Hines Ward in Pittsburgh was phenomenal. He was a great mentor toward the end of his career, so I learned a lot from those guys. I’ve gained a lot of experience and really feel like that I can impart that knowledge and wisdom to our players. The guys we recruit, they all have an opportunity if things go right to play at the next level. So, I feel like I can speak to that and give them some advice and prepare them for what they don’t know yet, for sure, and that will help me as a coach and in recruiting as well.”
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