He's a public policy and management major at USC. In his spare time, he likes to fish. As a 10-year-old, he was a finalist in the national Punt, Pass and Kick competition. His brother, John, was an offensive guard at San Jose State in 1994 and 1995.
He was named to the 1999 USA Today All-USA first team, Parade All-American, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Reebok ESPN All-American, The Sporting News Top 101, Prep Star Top 100 Dream Team, Tom Lemming Top 100, Prep Star Western Super 30, Super Prep All-Farwest, Tom Lemming All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Las Vegas Sun Super 11 first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF Division I Co-Defensive MVP, Los Angeles Times Glenn Davis Award (as the top Southern California prep football player), Los Angeles Times All-Orange County first team, Orange County Register All-Orange County Defensive MVP and All-Serra League MVP as a senior at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana (Calif.). He made 138 tackles, 6 interceptions (2 were returned for TDs), 7 tackles for losses and 2 forced fumbles as a free safety and ran for 945 yards on 116 carries (8.1 avg) with 14 TDs as a running back (he also played some quarterback early in the season, completing 21-of-41 passes, 51.2%, for 300-plus yards) in 1999. Mater Dei was the CIF Division I co-champion.
As a junior in 1998, he made Student Sports Junior All-American, Cal-Hi All-State first team, All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF Division I Defensive MVP, Los Angeles Times All-Orange County Back of the Year and Orange County Register All-Orange County Defensive MVP. He rushed for more than 1,600 yards with 21 TDs on offense and made 130 tackles, 6 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions on defense in 1998. In the 1998 CIF Division I championship game, which Mater Dei won, he earned Offensive and Defensive Player of the Game honors (he ran for 244 yards, with a 7.4 average, and 2 TDs).
As a 1997 sophomore, he made the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Sophomore first team. He played in 4 CIF championship games in his career, winning 3 of them. Current Trojans Matt Leinart and Will Collins also went to at Mater Dei.
Grootegoed, a reserve safety, appeared briefly on special teams in the Penn State opener (he did not make a tackle), but then came down with mononucleosis and was sidelined for the rest of his 2000 freshman season. Because of the early illness, he was allowed to redshirt in 2000, his first year at USC.
Grootegoed started for his second season at strongside linebacker as a sophomore in 2002 and led the Trojans in tackles. Overall in 2002 while starting all 13 games, he had a team-best 81 tackles, including a team-best 16.5 for losses of 81 yards (with a team-high 8 sacks for 54 yards), plus 3 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception which he returned 49 yards and 4 deflections. He made the 2002 All-Pac-10 first team. He missed 2002 spring practice while recovering from a leg injury he suffered during the 2001 season.
He had 3 tackles against Auburn and Colorado, then 9 (1.5 for a loss) at Kansas State, 5 (3 for a loss) against Oregon State. He then had a team-best 9 tackles (1 for a loss) at Washington State. He had a career-best (and team-high) 11 tackles (2 were sacks) and forced a fumble (on a sack) that he recovered (to set up a TD) against California (he also later recovered an on-side kick). Against Washington, he had 3 tackles (1 for a loss) and an interception (which he returned 49 yards to set up a USC TD). He made a team-best 8 tackles at Oregon (with a deflection), 8 stops (including 3 sacks) and a deflection at Stanford and 5 tackles (with a sack) against Arizona State. He ahd a game-best 8 tackles (1 for a loss) at UCLA and added 3 tackles (2 for losses, with a sack) and a deflection against Notre Dame. Against Iowa in the Orange Bowl, he had a game-best 6 tackles (including a 13-yard sack) and forced 2 fumbles (USC recovered 1 to set up a field goal).
Grootegoed started for his third season at strongside linebacker as a junior in 2003. But he sprained his left ankle against Stanford, played briefly against Notre Dame before respraining it, then missed USC's next 4 games of 2003 before seeing brief action against Oregon State (while starting) and Michigan. Overall in 2003 while appearing in 9 games (starting 8), he had 41 tackles, including 4.5 for losses of 24 yards (with 1.5 sacks for 12 yards), plus 1 deflection, 1 fumble recovery and 2 forced fumbles. He was 1 of 11 semifinalists for the 2003 Butkus Award (the only Pac-10 selection) and 1 of 12 semifinalists for the 2003 Lombardi Award. He was named to the 2003 All-Pac-10 second team. He had 5 tackles and forced a fumble (setting up a USC field goal) at Auburn, added 9 stops, a fumble recovery (which set up a USC TD) and a deflection against BYU and then had 4 tackles and a forced fumble (to set up a USC TD) against Hawaii. He made 8 tackles at California, 9 at Arizona State (with 2 for loses) and 4 against Stanford. He had 1 tackle in brief action against both Notre Dame and Michigan.
Grootegoed, an All-American candidate who has uncanny football instincts and can usually be found at the point of action, returns for his fourth season as a starting linebacker as a senior in 2004. After spending the past 3 years on the strong side, he moved to the weak side in 2004 spring practice.
He was recently a linebacker for the Detroit Lions.
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