The first player in Bluffton football history to collect more than 1,000 career receiving yards, Abraham Groves ’80 was the Beavers’ aerial “go-to” player for four years, from 1976-79. When his playing days were done, he held Bluffton records for career receptions (79) and yards (1,025), and he remains in the top 10 in both of those categories today.
A native of Dalton, Ohio, Groves was also a punt and kickoff return threat and led Bluffton and the Hoosier-Buckeye Collegiate Conference in punt returns as a senior. That year, he also led the Beavers in kickoff returns, and his 35 receptions for 412 yards were, at the time, the second-best single-season receiving statistics at Bluffton. In career punt returns, Groves’ 8.4-yard average per return ranks fourth in the Bluffton record book, while his 143 return yards rank 10th.
Groves broke into Bluffton’s starting lineup as a freshman and caught seven passes for 113 yards. As a sophomore he established himself as one of the top receivers in the HBCC, hauling in 28 catches for 394 yards and three touchdowns and picking up second-team all-conference honors. An off-season leg injury gave Groves a late start to the 1978 season, but he still managed to catch nine passes for 106 yards and a touchdown before getting back to full strength for his record-setting senior season, when he again was named second-team all-conference. In the spring of his senior year, Groves had tryouts with the Detroit Lions and New England Patriots of the National Football League.
Groves was honored with the 1980 A.C. Burcky Award, given annually to Bluffton’s top senior male student-athlete. In addition to his accomplishments on the football field, Groves lettered in basketball as a sophomore and lettered twice in track. He was named the track team’s MVP as a senior when he turned in its top performances in the 200-meter dash (22.8 seconds), 400-meter dash (51.9) and high jump (6-2), and was a member of the 1600-meter relay team (3:28.7).
Groves earned a degree in education with concentrations in art and history. He taught and was a varsity assistant football coach at Massillon Jackson High School for two years before he entered the medical sales business in 1983. He worked in cardiology medical sales for Cordis Corp., a division of Johnson & Johnson, where he was named the sales division’s rookie of the year and the company’s national sales representative of the year several times.