Biadasz and Garrett Groshek Garner National Attention
by Greg Bates
Special to the Community Spirit
Sitting in the stands and watching the 106th Rose Bowl in lavish Pasadena, California, Mark Lusic was in heaven.
The Amherst football coach was able to check an item off his bucket list.
But Lusic wasn’t attending the Wisconsin-Oregon game on New Year’s Day just for fun, he was there to support two of his former athletes: Tyler Biadasz and Garrett Groshek.
At several points in the game, Lusic was able to watch both guys on the field for the Wisconsin offense.
“It’s special, that’s the only way I can say it,” Lusic said. “And to have two players playing in it and not just playing, but to have integral parts of a team, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
The two 2016 Amherst High School graduates, who were catalysts for the Falcons football team that capped an undefeated season and won the WIAA Division 5 state football title as seniors, have carved out solid careers at the University of Wisconsin.
Biadasz transitioned from being an all-state defensive end in high school to starting all 41 career games at center for the Badgers. Groshek has also played in all 41 games, moving from being a quarterback at Amherst to a running back in college.
The two – who are both redshirt juniors – have been playing football together since seventh grade, and that wasn’t going to stop when they went off to college. Biadasz received a full-ride scholarship from Wisconsin out of high school and Groshek decided to walk-on before earning a scholarship after his redshirt freshman season.
“I think they kind of realized how special it was, especially down the stretch here,” Lusic said. “Even for me, we all kind of looked at it like, ‘Holy crap, is this special.’ They grew even closer in college, and to get an opportunity together is something special.”
Amherst community members couldn’t be more excited to have two top-notch Division I athletes making it big for themselves.
“It’s really big news,” said Jenny Ludeman, a special education teacher in the Tomorrow River School District. “You just really wouldn’t expect it. To have two in the same graduating class play for the Badgers is pretty amazing.”
Biadasz and Groshek have really enjoyed being on the gridiron together for so long.
“We both have been able to do the thing we love and dealing with the people that we love, so that’s really what makes it special and what makes it enjoyable,” Groshek said.
However, their days of playing on the same team might be over. On January 8, Biadasz announced he is skipping his senior season and entering the NFL draft. He is rated the Number 1 center by longtime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper and the No. 24 overall player.
“Everybody’s super excited for him,” Ludeman said. “It’s a pretty big thing.”
It is indeed a big thing to have a potential first-round draft pick, especially from a town of just over 1,000 people.
“As a teacher you ask a kid when they’re in sixth grade what they want to be – usually males will say they want to play in the NFL or NBA and you gently sort of dissuade them,” Ludeman said. “Now that’s going to be a reality for someone from Amherst.”
About 15 minutes before Biadasz announced on social media he would be forgoing his final college season to enter the draft, he called his high school football coach. Lusic wasn’t surprised Biadasz opted for the NFL.
“Football’s a collision sport and you only get so many snaps,” Lusic said. “I definitely think that he can play at the next level. I’m happy to see him go and I’m happy to see him chase down a dream. I’m proud of him, that’s the biggest thing.”
Coming out of high school, Lusic knew how talented Biadasz was and that he had a shot at becoming the best player at his position in college.
“He has a chance to be special,” Lusic said. “The biggest thing that separates Tyler is, first, his work ethic and two, he’s got tremendous feet. He’s smooth.”
Groshek is happy that his friend will get a chance to live out a dream and play professional football.
“He deserves it,” Groshek said. “He’s worked through everything. That’s obviously been a huge dream of his growing up, and I’m just really excited for him and proud of him. I’m wishing him the best and just excited to watch him on Sundays.”
Biadasz, who is 6-foot-3, 321 pounds, had a phenomenal junior season. He allowed just one sack on 390 pass blocking snaps and was named the Rimington Trophy winner – given to the nation’s best center – the first Badger to ever take home that award. Biadasz helped paved the way for All-American running back Jonathan Taylor to rush for back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons.
Groshek’s junior season also hinged on the success of Taylor. Because the do-everything running back was on the field for so many plays, Taylor garnered more carries. Groshek had just 42 rushing attempts on the season – down from 65 the previous year – and 194 yards and two touchdowns. As a sophomore, Groshek amassed 425 yards on the ground. However, Groshek had a career-high 29 catches for 289 yards in 2019.
“I thought I was a little inconsistent for my liking,” said Groshek, who has 1,408 total yards and six touchdowns in his career. “I thought I could have been more consistent in everything. I tried to lead a little more than in previous years.”
Being behind one of the top running backs in the country, Groshek has learned a lot from Taylor.
“That he came to work every day with that consistency and passion and enjoyment that he really had,” Groshek said. “Every day was the same and it really didn’t matter what the circumstances were, he was going to bring the same amount of energy to each and every day.”
Entering his final season for the Badgers, Groshek will get a shot to show the coaching staff he deserves more touches since Taylor declared early for the NFL draft.
“Pretty much everything I can improve on: routes, pass protection technique, defensive IDs, patience,” Groshek said. “You’re never done getting better.”
Lusic thinks Groshek will put on full display, showing what he’s capable of to the Wisconsin coaches.
“When he touches the ball, good things happen,” Lusic said. “I think they know that. I think he averages like 6-7 yards a carry. When he gets the ball, he does good things. I think he can show a lot. I believe wholeheartedly Garrett can play at the next level.”
Wow, imagine if a second Amherst kid gets a shot to play professional football. The town will be reeling.
Lusic isn’t sure if Groshek fits into the NFL as a running back, but as a jack-of-all-trades kind of player.
“He’ll do anything he needs to, to get on the field,” Lusic said. “If you want him to play middle linebacker, I’m sure Garrett would figure it out.”