Jarrett Grace was working on a landscaping project in Kentucky when he received a call from the Chicago Bears May 24.
His life changed immediately.
Grace, a 2011 Colerain High School graduate, dropped everything and flew to Chicago that Tuesday night. The next day, the Bears announced they had signed the undrafted free agent linebacker out of Notre Dame.
Grace couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity.
Multiple NFL teams were unsure about Grace. He broke his leg midway through the 2013 season and he missed the entire 2014 season while his rehabilitation continued. He was a backup linebacker in 2015 and made 17 tackles in the regular season with primarily special teams.
Notre Dame linebackers coach Mike Elston told the Notre Dame athletics site he knew Grace would get an opportunity.
"He's a champion at everything he does," Elston said. "As the (2015) season went on I had scouts asking how he had recovered from his injuries. The greatest thing for Jarrett was that he had the opportunity to play in the (Fiesta Bowl) game, so these teams could see that he could run, he could tackle, he could make plays. He was playing out of position, but he's a big physical linebacker who can play special teams. He's got great value."
Grace impressed Bears’ officials during a workout at the team’s rookie mini-camp in early May, but Chicago wasn’t ready to sign him just yet. He waited.
Last week changed everything when he inked a contract. He will continue to work out with the Bears in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this week.
“It’s really a learning curve for me,” Grace told WCPO.com. “I am just trying to learn how this whole NFL thing goes.”
Colerain coach Tom Bolden told WCPO.com last week he is happy for Grace and believes the former Cardinals’ standout has a good chance of making the team later this summer.
Grace said the speed of the game in practice has been an adjustment, but it’s one he welcomes.
“Guys have such a high execution level – it’s really cool to see,” Grace said.
A quick learner, Grace said he’s willing to do what it takes to make the team. He’s also very proud of being from Colerain where he was an all-state linebacker as a senior.
“I wear that Colerain badge with a lot of pride and honor,” Grace said. “I feel very lucky that I have been with some incredible programs my entire life and it started at Colerain. The people of this community are just tremendous. ”