It is not often to see players that play on Friday night, play Sunday on television. However, Jake Grove is the exception.
Grove started his love for football at 10-years-old in the town of Forest, Va. He was a local star from 1994-1998 at Jefferson Forest High School, and continued to play football at Virginia Tech until he entered the National Football League.
During his time at Virginia Tech, Grove achieved the award for the nation’s best college football center, the Rimington Trophy. Along with the Rimington Trophy, he is one of a few to have his jersey retired in Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium.
“It’s an honor to have won the Rimington Trophy,” Jake Grove said. “Especially since it is named after the great Dave Rimington.”
In the early1980s, Rimington was known as the best offensive lineman in college football. He played six years in the NFL before retiring in 1989.
In 2003 after graduating from Virginia Tech, he entered into the 2004 NFL draft. In the second round, the Oakland Raiders drafted him.
“It had its ups and downs when I was drafted by the Raiders,” Grove said. “They did not win a lot of games when I was there, and they had a real turbulent coaching staff. The Raiders owner at the time, Al Davis, really wanted to win, and by hiring and firing coaches, it was tough trying to get into a groove.”
“My last two years were really great,” Grove said. “I was able to learn a lot, and that was one of the main reasons I was able to sign a nice free agent deal with the Miami Dolphins.”
Grove said that playing football, especially at a high level, take a toll on the body, and injuries led to his early exit in the NFL.
“I got old, and after awhile it starts to catch up with you,” Grove said. “There are younger players coming in all the time, but I consider myself very blessed because I was able to play for seven years and into my 30s. I have no regrets.”
Even during his time in the NFL, Grove knew all the progress Liberty University’s campus was making and was excited to meet Liberty’s athletic director Jeff Barber last month at the Amazing Mile Children’s Run.
“It was the first time I had met him, and it was really great to learn more about what was going on at Liberty and all the exciting plans and progress that the school has made in the last few years,” Grove said. “We talked about the new stadium and how he was excited about that, and about the great facilities that they have at Liberty.”
Grove said that being from Lynchburg, he loves all that Liberty has done and the growth that is to come.
“They have a first-class football stadium, and all of the other athletic facilities from the ski slope to the ice skating rink,” Grove said. “All of the growth that has happened on Wards Road to help support the campus, like all the restaurants and shopping, has really been a great thing for the City of Lynchburg.”
“I thought it was a great hire when they brought in Turner Gill,” Grove said. “I know that he will do a good job at Liberty.”
According to Grove, he wants all football players to know how important it is to have a college degree, even in the NFL.
“Make sure you take care of your degree first, because that is the most important thing,” Grove said. “It is something college scouts look at when they’re drafting guys, whether they have their degree or not. College degrees can help determine how fast they think you can pick a play book up.”
Grove said that college degrees are important for your life off the field. He also said that setting goals is another important part of football and life.
“One of the biggest things to remember is, whatever your goals are try your best to achieve them,” Grove said. “When you are done playing, you want to be able to look back and not have any regrets.”
While playing football does not last forever, Grove is content with his experience and playing days in the NFL.
“Never have regrets about your playing career…Every time you are on the field, whether it is a game or practice, you should leave it all out there and do not hold anything back because that leads to regrets,” Grove said.
Since retiring from the NFL two years ago, Grove and his family, have returned to Lynchburg.
“We moved back last year and are now building a house,” Grove said. “I came back to Lynchburg because of family and the area is a great place to raise children.”
“Things are good,” Grove said. “I started a company called New Angle Fishing Company. We do guided fishing tours on all the local rivers. That’s where I spend most of my days, I definitely cannot complain.”