Former University of Toledo star quarterback Bruce Gradkowski will be on the sidelines at Anthony Wayne High School this year as a volunteer assistant quarterbacks coach. THE BLADE
The newest assistant with the Anthony Wayne football program brings both an NFL pedigree and playbook.
Former University of Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski has joined the Generals staff as a volunteer assistant quarterbacks coach. Gradkowski, who has played in 34 games in the NFL since 2006, has thrown for 4,057 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“The biggest thing is that he is such a good teacher,” Anthony Wayne coach Andy Brungard said. “He gets the kids to understand the basics like footwork and reads. He doesn’t overload them with information. Our kids really enjoy it. They’re very excited every time he’s out there with us in practice.”
Gradkowski, who was born in Pittsburgh but now lives in the Anthony Wayne school district, set several records at Toledo before moving on to the NFL.
He started his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and also has played for Cleveland, Oakland, Cincinnati, and most recently with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Gradkowski, who is currently a free agent, has not officially retired from the NFL but has been hindered by injuries in recent seasons. He also has various business ventures in the Toledo area, including a restaurant in the city’s downtown.
Gradkowski, who officially started with AW on the first day of fall workouts on Monday, told BCSN that he has enjoyed imparting knowledge to the high school players.
“It’s exciting to be able to lend a helping hand and give some advice,” he said. “It feels like yesterday that I was in high school. I’ve enjoyed giving a little feedback to these kids. Now I’m in Toledo helping and I don’t have to strap on the pads.”
Brungard said he first met Gradkowski last summer when the QB was conditioning on the practice football field at the high school. One of Brungard’s assistants also had a connection with Gradkowski through his time at UT.
“I reached out to him to see if he would come out and work with us,” Brungard said.
Gradkowski worked with the team’s quarterbacks on the side in the spring. He will be working with the team three days per week during the preseason.
“He’s such a busy guy,” Brungard said.
“At first he felt bad because he wasn’t going to be able to be out there with us every day. But I told him anytime we could have him out there would be awesome. He’s such a high-caliber person.”
One of the biggest benefits to having the NFL QB on staff is his input on the Generals’ playbook.
“I mean he has the playbooks from the Raiders and Steelers,” Brungard said. “He can give little twists and wrinkles. One of the things we wanted to emphasize was our passing game. It’s nice to have him there as kind of a consultant.”
Gradkowski, 34, had a record-setting career at Toledo and was selected by Tampa Bay in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft.
“For him to volunteer with us speaks volumes about how great a guy he is,” Brungard said.