Who Is Jalyn Gramstad? The NAIA Quarterback With FBS Potential

    Northwestern Raiders' quarterback Jalyn Gramstad is the NAIA standout with FBS aspirations, but that doesn't begin to tell his whole story.

    The Nebraska Cornhuskers landed a big-time playmaker at the quarterback position for the upcoming season when Dylan Raiola flipped his commitment from the Georgia Bulldogs to come and play for Matt Rhule’s team. However, a lesser-known QB made the news on Monday when Jalyn Gramstad worked out at Nebraska’s post-graduate camp, hoping to land on the ‘Huskers.

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    Who is Gramstad? The easy answer is he’s the current quarterback for the Northwestern Raiders and the reigning NAIA Player of the Year. It would also be effortless to tell you that he led the NAIA with 3,681 passing yards and a 67.8%. A brief search of his roster page would tell you he earned AP/AFCA/NAIA First Team All-American honors for his performances last fall.

    Those accomplishments, those honors, those statistics tell you what Gramstad achieved in the 2023 college football campaign. However, those numbers and accolades don’t even begin to scratch the surface of who the Northwestern quarterback is. They don’t begin to tell the story of where he’s come from, how he’s fought, adapted, and grown to the point of an FBS opportunity.

    West Lyon Community School District has less than 1,000 students split across their elementary, junior, and high school cohorts. It’s the epitome of a small school in an area of Iowa that it’s infamously difficult to be recruited from. According to Pro Football Reference, they boast just two alumni who played in the NFL — Kyle Vanden Bosch and LeVar Woods.

    Even if you’re a star at a school like West Lyon, getting exposure is difficult, and there’s no doubt that Gramstad was a star for the Wildcats. The dual-threat QB led the school to the class 1A state championship in 2019, his senior season. At the same time, he racked up six interceptions on the defensive side of the ball while earning all-conference honors in basketball, baseball, and golf.

    Gramstad was the epitome of a multi-position, multi-sport star. Furthermore, he was an academic standout as a member of the National Honor Society. He was the sort of high school athlete that should have stars by their name and offers clogging their mailbox. But, coming from a small school, with a positional status that was unclear at the college level, neither occured.

    There was no positional uncertainty for Gramstad.

    “I always wanted to play quarterback in college,” he told Siouxland Proud in 2022. “That’s why I committed to come here, and I committed to Coach McCarty to play quarterback.”

    That aspiration didn’t happen immediately. In his 2020 Covid-impacted freshman season, Gramstad played 11 games on the defensive side of the ball — recording 31 tackles and two interceptions. In 12 games during the 2021 season, he tied the team lead for pass breakups (7) and added another three INTs.

    Even heading into 2022, Gramstad was meant to lead the defensive backfield. However, when an injury to starting quarterback Blake Fryar handed him an opportunity to live out his dream of playing quarterback, the Northwestern standout took it and never looked back. As the starting QB, he has led the team to consecutive NAIA title games across 2022 and 2023.

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    Winner. Patient. Resilient. These are all words that can be applied to Nebraska hopeful Gramstad. Leader. Selfless. There are two more that come not from me but from the people who have been around the Northwestern quarterback during his journey through the Raiders football program.

    “Jalyn is a glue guy. He’s the one that gets everybody going and gets everybody together,” Northwestern head coach Matt McCarty told Siouxland Proud. “He’s really selfless.”

    “Just a really good leader for being such a young kid,” wide receiver Michael Storey continued. “He kind of leads the way for a lot of older guys.”

    After a difficult season under center in 2023, the Nebraska quarterback room could use leadership and rallying capability as the Cornhuskers head into Year 2 under head coach Rhule. That’s exactly what Gramstad brings to the table. His Monday workout put him in the shop window for an FBS opportunity, but if it doesn’t materialize, he’ll be back to lead Northwestern in 2024.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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