TAMPA - On the field where he made a name for himself as the University of South Florida's all-time leading passer, former quarterback Matt Grothe called the biggest play of his life.
Saturday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium, while being introduced to a homecoming crowd, Grothe dropped to one knee at the 30-yard line and peered into the eyes of his girlfriend, Alyssa Ashley.
“Will you marry me?''
Ashley, tearing up and trembling, said yes.
“Oh my gosh, I had no idea,'' Ashley said. “I was stunned. Shocked. But I'm so happy.
“I thought it (proposal) might be coming here at some point. I mean, we have been together for seven years. But I never imagined something like this. What an incredible day.''
USF brought back 14 members of its inaugural team from 1997 and introduced them on the field during the second quarter. Right after that, Grothe (2006-09 at USF) was introduced and his proposal was shown on the video board.
“I've been planning this for a few weeks and I'm glad I was able to do it this way,'' said Grothe, a former Lake Gibson High School standout who works in sales for a beer distributor. “I told Alyssa I was being called to the field because they wanted to recognize me for being the Big East's all-time leading passer. She had no idea.
“Then I whispered in her ear, 'This really isn't for me. This is for you.' I got on my knee and asked her to marry me. I guess we'll always remember this one, right?''
“I think I'm still shaking,'' said Ashley, a former USF cheerleader who is from Palm Harbor. “I don't even remember what he told me. I think I said yes. The whole thing was kind of overwhelming.''