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Getting his chance: Decatur’s Muehlstein to lead TCU in bowl game

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, December 22, 2018
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Looking for Room

LOOKING FOR ROOM – TCU quarterback and former Decatur standout Grayson Muehlstein turns upfield during the Horned Frogs’ 31-24 win over Oklahoma State in the regular season finale. Muehlstein took over for the injured Michael Collins and helped the Horned Frogs become bowl eligible with the win. Photo courtesy of TCU Athletic Communications

When TCU quarterback Michael Collins went down with a foot injury Nov. 17 against rival Baylor, head coach Gary Patterson had few options to replace him.

Collins, who entered the season as the backup to starter Shawn Robinson, was called into action on short notice after Robinson underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. With Collins out, the Horned Frogs were down to their third-string quarterback – a redshirt senior who had spent the past five years waiting patiently for his chance.

He was a long way from his alma mater at Decatur High School, but in less than three quarters, Grayson Muehlstein burst onto the national scene.

Muehlstein, or “Mule” as he’s referred to by his teammates, led TCU to a 16-9 win over the Bears to keep its bowl hopes alive.

“[Collins] got hurt in the first quarter of the Baylor game, and I went in after that,” Muehlstein recalled. “Once I realized that was the reality and I was going to have to step in and help us win, what was going through my head was just ‘stay poised, execute, and run the offense like I know how.'”

Looking to Throw

LOOKING TO THROW – TCU quarterback and former Decatur standout Grayson Muehlstein drops back to pass during the Horned Frogs’ 31-24 win over Oklahoma State in the regular season finale. Photo courtesy of TCU Athletic Communications

For his encore the next week, Muehlstein made his first collegiate start in the regular season finale with the Horned Frogs’ bowl hopes hanging in the balance.

“Going into that game, with it being my first start, I was pretty excited and pretty anxious at the same time,” Muehlstein said. “I just prepared all week and was pretty confident in the gameplan and what they were doing on defense.”

He had good reason to be.

After years of preparation, Muehlstein made the most of his chance, guiding TCU to a 31-24 win over Oklahoma State to become bowl eligible. Muehlstein ended the game 16-of-25 through the air, throwing for 180 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He added 47 yards on the ground.

“It was very rewarding,” Muehlstein said. “I was happy for the coaches and for the rest of the guys, my teammates – really the whole program, being able to go to a bowl. I was happy to be able to help contribute and lead us in achieving that. To get to a bowl, it was doubtful the way the season was going for us with injuries.”

Muehlstein’s performance the last two weeks of the season caught the eyes and captured the hearts of many, including Patterson.

In a post-game locker room speech posted to TCU’s Twitter, Patterson lauded Muehlstein for his commitment to the Horned Frogs’ program.

“In a day and age when everybody when it’s going tough leaves – they run when they don’t get their way, here’s a guy who stayed here five years,” Patterson began. “[Muehlstein] hasn’t gotten an opportunity, [only] played in about seven or eight ballgames, but he stayed true to TCU. At the end of his career, he got an opportunity to be remembered forever.”

Muehlstein will get that chance Dec. 26 when he leads TCU in the Cheez-It Bowl against Cal at Chase Field in Phoenix.

And former Decatur coach Kyle Story has no doubt Muehlstein will shine on the biggest stage.

“I always felt like when he did get an opportunity, he would perform and be a leader for the team,” Story said. “I was glad to see him get that chance. You always hate for someone to get injured, but that’s what it took in that Baylor game before Grayson got on the field. He got out there and took advantage of the opportunity and made the most of it.”

In his senior season at Decatur in 2013, Muehlstein led the Eagles to a 9-4 record. He accounted for 4,541 total yards – 3,079 passing and 1,462 rushing – and scored 53 total touchdowns.

Muehlstein was awarded a scholarship to TCU, but when he arrived in 2014, the Horned Frogs were already led by future NFL quarterback Trevone Boykin. TCU finished the 2014 season 12-1 and with a Peach Bowl victory, forcing Muehlstein to redshirt.

The next two years, Muehlstein was relegated to the scout team, eventually playing behind four-star recruit and Southlake Carroll product Kenny Hill. It took four years before Muehlstein eventually made his way up to No. 3 on the depth chart.

Muehlstein conceded not seeing the field for so long was trying.

“It’s been difficult being here for so long and never really getting a chance,” Muehlstein said. “Being behind guys like Trevone and Kenny, for me I guess, over the years, it was just not giving up or losing sight of what I was trying to accomplish for myself – for me to get better and be the best quarterback I can be, regardless of how talented the other guys are around me.”

But Muehlstein’s tenacity came as little surprise to Story.

“It shows the kind of perseverance and character he has,” Story said. “Just because things weren’t going his way and he didn’t have an opportunity to get on the field, he didn’t go in and demand a release, so he could transfer to another school. He was a guy who was going to stick it out and be true to the scholarship he signed and the school he was with.”

When Muehlstein takes the field for the Horned Frogs in what will be his final college game at the Cheez-It Bowl, he will be thinking of everyone who helped him get to this point. It has been an evolving journey since he left Decatur, but as far as Muehlstein is concerned, he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I’m glad I can represent Decatur well,” Muehlstein said. “My time at TCU has been great. It’s taught me a lot. I think it helped me to overcome a lot and stay focused when things weren’t going my way. If I could go back and change anything, I don’t think I would. It’s kind of made me the way I am today.”

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