SALT LAKE CITY — Ute legend Lee Grosscup, a former All-American University of Utah quarterback who made the shovel pass famous in the late 1950s and later became a well-respected sportscaster, died Monday at age 83.

One of Grosscup’s close friends, Las Vegas Raiders senior executive John Herrera, told Sports Illustrated that Grosscup died after sitting down to eat lunch at Bay View Rehabilitation Center in Alameda, California, while recuperating from a hip surgery sustained in a fall after the 2019 football season. The cause of death wasn’t revealed, but it was not COVID-19-related, according to SI.

Grosscup has long been credited for bringing the shovel pass into college football. The forward-thinking play, now a routine part of spread offenses, is sometimes called the “Utah pass” thanks to the success Grosscup and the Jack Curtice-coached Utes experienced with it while he played for Utah in 1957 and ’58.

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After transferring to Utah from Washington, Grosscup had a breakout season as a junior with a nation-best 1,398 yards passing with 10 touchdowns. His heavy use of the shovel pass limited opponents to two interceptions and helped him complete about 69% of his passes.

Utah made a name for its program that season with a great showing against Army, then a national powerhouse, in a 39-33 loss at West Point. Grosscup threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns in a game that Curtice would later refer to as “The time we beat Army,” according to the Utah Football Countdown blog.

The Deseret News & Telegram’s dispatch from Army’s Michie Stadium in New York on Nov. 11, 1957, claimed Grosscup and his teammates “won the plaudits of the crowd and the nation” in the defeat.

“Utah’s terrific passing attack, which was still chalking up scores in the last five seconds of the game, gave Grosscup the national recognition which he has merited as the country’s leading passer,” Kenneth B. Knowles wrote. “As half a dozen press box writers commented Saturday: ‘The pros will be watching for him.’

Utah All-American quarterback Lee Grosscup looks to pass. | Courtesy University of Utah Athletics

“Lowell Thomas, noted newscaster and world traveler, said following the game that Utah had ‘put on the best passing attack I have ever seen.’”

That performance boosted Grosscup’s national profile. He ended up finishing 10th in voting for the Heisman Trophy, became the first Utah player named to the Football Writers Association of America All-America team and earned national honors from Look magazine.

A shoulder injury hampered Grosscup’s senior season at Utah, but he was still invited to the Senior Bowl and was the 10th overall selection in the 1959 draft by the New York Giants.

Grosscup’s professional playing career included stints with the Giants (1959-61), the American Football League’s New York Titans (1962) after being cut before the season by the Minnesota Vikings, the Canadian football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders (1963), the Oakland Raiders’ taxi squad (1964) and the Hartford Charter Oaks (1965) of the Continental Football League.

Grosscup’s broadcasting career included a couple of decades of working national telecasts for ABC and 32 years with the Cal broadcast team until his retirement in 2018.