It can happen anywhere, anytime. Pittsburgh senior wideout La Tef
Grim will see something--the light of a full moon adding a warm
glow to a night sky, the soft smile of a beautiful woman, the
tired eyes of a homeless man--that inspires him to pull out his
pen and pour his thoughts into the tattered spiral notebook he
carries in his backpack. "I only write poems about things I've
seen or experienced," says Grim, who last year set the
single-season Big East receptions record with 75 catches. "It's
my way of escaping from the world."
Grim has composed more than 100 poems, ranging in length from a
simple couplet to 35 lines. He began writing them when he was 13
and residing temporarily with an aunt in Stockton, Calif. "I
felt as if nobody wanted me," he says, "but instead of doing
something destructive, I decided to use poetry to describe how I
was feeling." Last Christmas, Grim wrote about his childhood
experiences in a poem dedicated to one of his uncles, Ray
Lankford, the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder, who has counseled
and encouraged Grim over the years. The poem, titled Given A
Vision, reads in part:
I remember being a boy with no visions and dreams
My hope was to sale dope and survive and cope....
You have given me a vision that only I can see, that is why
Now I can be me.
In the past few weeks the primary theme of Grim's work has been
great expectations--a topic he's confronting on the football field
as well. Grim isn't particularly big (6-feet, 190 pounds) or fast
(4.51 for 40 yards), but he was one of the nation's top wide
receivers last season largely because he runs meticulous routes.
"He understands how to get open," says Pitt receivers coach J.D.
Brookhart, "but he also does the little things, like taking a
karate class to help him learn how to use his hands to get off
the line quickly in bump-and-run coverage."
Grim's football career got off on the wrong foot when he was in
sixth grade after his Pop Warner coach watched him repeatedly
trip over his own feet and advised Grim to try a different sport.
Grim outgrew his awkwardness and graduated from Franklin High in
Stockton with two league MVP awards in football, one in
basketball and one in track. He lacked the grades to qualify for
a Division I scholarship, so in 1996 he enrolled at San Jose
State, where he played intramural flag football. "That's when I
realized I really wanted to be a Division I player," he says.
The next year Grim transferred to San Joaquin Delta, a junior
college in Stockton, where he excelled on the field (58
receptions, first team All-America) and in the classroom (50
credits in two semesters). With his game and his grades in
order, Grim received an athletic scholarship to Pitt in the
summer of 1998. In his first two years as a Panther, he hauled
in a total of 135 passes for 2,012 yards and 13 touchdowns. Grim
had four receptions for 85 yards in Pitt's 30-7 victory over
Kent on Saturday and needs 52 more catches to break the
conference career record of 190. "When I'm done," says Grim, "I
want to be known as the best receiver to have played in the Big
That certainly would be something worth writing about.
COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT GOLDSMITH