For the past two years Utah wide receiver Aaron Grimm has been carrying some excess baggage around - someone else's name.
The Fullerton J.C. transfer has been called, more than anything, "the next Loren Richey." Mention Grimm, and the next words out of somebody's mouth will be, "He's another Loren Richey."This is news to neither Richey nor Grimm. It is like being a Smothers brother. You can't mention one without the other.
The comparison would never have been made had Grimm not done so well since arriving at Utah. Instead of being just another receiver, he filled the gap left by Richey last year with barely a hitch. So to get it out of the way early, here are the comparisons between Grimm and Richey, Utah's all-time reception leader: Both have only average speed, run exceptionally good routs, have good hands and concentration, can catch the ball in a crowd and are short-route receivers.
If Grimm has been linked too often to his predecessor, he has has only himself to blame. Richey came to Utah for the 1985 season out of El Camino (Calif.) College. He and quarterback Larry Egger combined to produce the most prolific passing combination in Utah history. At the same time Richey was becoming a national leader in receptions at El Camino, Grimm was playing in the same league for Fullerton J.C.
Grimm's connection with Utah came when Ute offensive coordinator Jack Reilly made a recruiting visit to look for a running back at Fullerton. He ended up liking Grimm well enough to talk him into coming to Utah.
In 1986 Grimm enrolled at Utah and walked on. He redshirted that first year and became Richey's understudy. "We got to be really good friends," he says. The coaches discovered that Grimm, who is a few pounds heavier and an inch taller, could eventually be used slightly more often on deep routes than Richey. However, he had to work on his patterns, especially against man-to-man coverage.
Grimm's original plan wasn't anywhere near the finished product. Growing up a Mormon in Whittier, Calif., he dreamed of playing for BYU. "When I was little I always wanted to go to BYU," he says.
That wasn't a real big possibility in the early years. Grimm never played organized football until he was a junior in high school. However, he would spend afternoons throwing the football to friends who played on the high school team. They eventually talked him into going out.
Grimm made the team as the second-team quarterack, but eventually took over the option offense as the first-string signal-caller. From there it was on to Fullerton, where he was converted into a receiver.
BYU talked to Grimm about walking on after his J.C. career, as did Utah. Boise State and Iowa State were the only schools serious about giving him a scholarship. He had decided to go to Iowa State when he was informed the Cyclones had signed another receiver they wanted more than Grimm. By then he had told everyone else he was going to ISU.
So Grimm called Utah again and asked to walk on. He paid for four quarters of schooling before being given a grant-in-aid last year.
With Richey graduated, Grimm has set about making a name for himself. Last year he caught 31 passes for 521 yards, averaging 16.8 yards a catch. More significantly, he caught all 31 passes he was thrown. "He has great hands and goes after the ball," says receivers coach Fred Graves. "I've had some great receivers like Bobby Humphrey (with the Jets). Loren even dropped some, but I've never had someone who didn't drop any all season."
This season he's tied with Bryan Bero as Utah's second-leading receiver with 43 catches - three behind Carl Harry. He is also second in total receiving yardage with 690. However, it hasn't been a perfect year. Against Wyoming two weeks ago he registered no catches and dropped three passes. He rebounded last week against San Diego State, pulling in six catches for 104 yards. Grimm's finest day was a 12-catch, 166-yard performance in which he scored his only two touchdowns of the season.
He has spent considerable time commiserating with quarterback Scott Mitchell, who is being constantly compared to John Elway. "We just want to make our own names," says Grimm. "We want to have our own style. It's hard to try to fill those (Richey's) shoes. He left some pretty big shoes."
Grimm says he doesn't regret his decision to go to Utah, despite the Utes' 3-5 record. It is a paradise for wide receivers. And though he has had an identy problem, he says things are improving in that area. "It gets kind of old," he says. "Instead of being a Loren Richey carbon copy, I'd rather be an Aaron Grimm with some of Loren Richey's technique."