HUDSON — The gift of size has opened many paths for Grayson Stover, and they've helped lead him to become the most decorated recruit in the history of Hudson High football.
One path Stover never took along the way? A short cut.
"He was never able to become content," coach Rob Mahler said. "It's easy for a kid that has that size, to not have to work that hard, and still you'll be better than 90 percent of the kids you go up against on a Friday night. But he didn't leave it that way."
The folks at Indiana University noticed. Stover, a 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive lineman, is headed to IU after signing his letter of intent Wednesday. He is the most accomplished commitment the Cobras football program has ever had. Zack Wynn, Hudson quarterback in the mid 2000s, signed with Western Michigan, a decade after lineman John "Whitehouse" Whitehead went to Wake Forest.
Stover initially committed to the University of South Florida before switching to Indiana last week, and the significant reaction in the recruiting world was sign enough of how highly Stover is considered.
In the end, Stover was swayed by the Big Ten's run-first style, and it didn't hurt that the Hoosiers had two 1,000-yard rushers last year.
Indiana, a longtime fan of Stover, is familiar with his work ethic.
"They'd have a coach come to visit and he'd message them, 'I gotta finish this set of squats first,' " Mahler said. "He doesn't dodge the weight room — since the season's ended and we've had it open, he's been in there every day. It's to his credit. He took the size he was given and developed it. He worked at it."
Stover confirms this: "I don't think I've ever missed a football workout. I love the game, and I'm always trying to improve myself."
He thinks he probably inherited some of his habits from sister Marissa, who is in the Air Force and is home just this week from a deployment.
Hudson's coaching staff had its role, too. Mahler, an assistant prior to taking over as head coach this year, saw how then-head coach Mark Kantor's line assistant, David Broughton, recognized Stover's potential as a 250-pound freshman. The college offers began rolling in then.
"Coach Broughton was definitely a huge factor in where I'm at now," Stover said. "My coaches talked about other players who had talent but kinda slacked off. He guided me and was in the weight room every day."
Also working in Stover's favor was a Cobras offense that asked the tackle to pull, something big men are rarely asked to do in high school. Whereas some colleges must hope or project as to how a lineman will perform added duties at the next level, Stover was able to show his pulling techniques, down blocking and pass protection on film.
On film as well: The chip-on-shoulder mentality Mahler says Stover has had since his freshman year.
"Angry, but not playing outside the means you're allowed to play. He has the intensity and meanness an offensive lineman should play with," Mahler said.
River Ridge, which gave up just six points a game during a 9-1 regular season, allowed 14 in quick fashion against the Stover-led Cobras.
"Grayson is a big, physical player that seemed to have the right on-field mentality to succeed at the next level," River Ridge coach Ryan Benjamin said.
Stover thinks that success could come sooner than later, thinking he may step in as a freshman. No doubt he'll be in the weight room, every day, upping his odds.
"That size is nothing anybody can coach," Mahler said. "That comes from somewhere else. But what he's done with that size speaks volumes about who he is."