Nicolas Grigsby entered the 2010 season as the Arizona Wildcats' featured tailback.
He'll exit as a specialist - if that.
Felled by his second serious injury in as many years, Grigsby - the team's fiery senior - has been relegated to second string. Though he's expected to play when the Wildcats take on No. 1 Oregon, it's unlikely that Grigsby will ever return to the role of primary back - one he occupied so well during his first three seasons at the UA.
Grigsby separated his shoulder twice as a junior, missing four of the team's final six games. This year, the 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pounder was felled by an ankle injury that occurred when he stepped on a tackler against UCLA.
"There's nothing you can do about it," Grigsby said about the injuries. "It just happens."
Junior Keola Antolin has shined in Grigsby's place, rushing for 235 yards and two touchdowns over the last three games.
Grigsby, 21, hopes he can redefine his role as a change-of-pace back in Arizona's final two games. Teammates say Grigsby is staying strong, even though his body isn't cooperating.
"He's a guy who's always ready to make that big play," said wide receiver David Roberts. "He's a little injured, a little banged up, but he'll be ready to go. He'll be ready to make the big play."
The Star talked to Grigsby about his new role, health - and legacy:
You've been pretty banged up for the last two seasons. Have the injuries been hard to deal with?
A: "Yeah, especially the last two years. I started off last year strong, and then there was a shoulder injury and recovering from a shoulder injury. This year, making a guy miss, I hurt my ankle. It happens. I can only do what I can do to the best of my abilities when I'm asked."
Have your goals changed?
A: "My goals now are to finish up, be a great teammate and encourage the guys that are out there on the field. I want to make sure they know what they're supposed to be doing, being the older guy right now."
Where do you fit in on this offense now?
A: "We all have our own roles to play on offense. Keola brings a lot to the table, running downhill. He gets 2 yards, gets 2 yards, then pops one here and there. Coaches do a great job of trying to get me in space. That's what I do good. like I said, if we just play our goal, do what we're asked to do, that's all."
What would it mean to upset No. 1 Oregon on Friday?
A: "It would mean a lot to our community, a lot to our program and a lot to us, to show what we're all about. We've played hard all year, we overcame adversity all season. Like Coach said, we need to do everything we can each snap. If we can do that, we're good to go."
It seems like you prefer to be the underdog in games like this …
A: "Oh yeah. Every time, even when I'm hanging out with the guys and we see guys playing on the screen, I root for the underdog. Take Mississippi State and Arkansas last week; I was going to for Mississippi State all the way. They can't hang around with Arkansas in the long run, but they fought the whole game. It's more fun rooting for the underdog. The underdog is going to come out and play fearless and try to knock off the top guys."
• What: Arizona at Oregon
• When: 5 p.m. Friday
• TV: ESPN
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM