Sullivan Grosz spent last year playing on a broken foot and still delivered the Cal Poly football team an All-America season.
But the injury finally caught up to the former Mustangs defensive tackle in his first offseason as a professional. The Houston Texans waived the undrafted free agent and reigning Big Sky Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday after it became clear that the foot fracture worsened during organized team activities and will force him to miss the entire upcoming season.
Grosz initially hurt his foot when a teammate landed on it in Cal Poly’s training camp last August. He hoped to push through it again this summer, just as he did racking up 71 tackles and 8 1/2 sacks last fall, when it mysteriously exacerbated.
“I think it happened a few weeks ago. I kind of looked at it like I can work this pain, and I was,” Grosz said, “but one of the days I was playing through it and running around on a broken foot. Eventually, the pain was too much. Lo and behold, I had a break right through the middle of this bone.”
That would be the navicular bone, described to Grosz by doctors as one of the most devastating to fracture.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Grosz is scheduled to have surgery today, performed by prominent Charlotte, N.C., foot expert Dr. Bob Anderson and plans to return to his hometown of Fresno, where he starred for San Joaquin Memorial High, for the 6- to 8-month rehabilitation process.
The Texans, who listed Grosz as a defensive end in their 3-4 scheme, signed rookie free agent Tim Jackson from North Carolina to fill Grosz’s spot on the roster.
That leaves St. Louis Rams linebacker Johnny Millard as the lone Mustangs player from the 2013 team still on an NFL roster. Former Cal Poly receiver Ramses Barden remains in camp with the Buffalo Bills in a crowded receiving corps, and cornerback Asa Jackson is looking for an increase in playing time for a thin Baltimore Ravens defensive backfield.
It’s a disappointing way to end his own rookie season, but Grosz was encouraged by a meeting with Houston general manager Rick Smith and the feedback he received from Texans coaches as he left the team.
“They really liked me,” Grosz said. “They thought I was doing well, and even the general manager mentioned that if I do come back and play, they would still be interested in me.”