Sept. 10, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
At 6-6, Griffin literally couldn’t help but be big — he is the second-tallest player on the roster, just an inch shorter than fellow redshirt freshman OL Shamire Devine — but he played big in Fall Camp to earn the starting job at right tackle.
It’s a big step forward for the Panacea, Fla., native, who redshirted the 2013 season.
From an athletic family — his mom earned a college volleyball scholarship, his dad wrestled in high school and his uncle played football at Florida A&M — Chris was a two-sport star at Wakulla High School. He was a two-time captain in football and was the War Eagles’ MVP in 2012 as a senior after leading his team to an undefeated regular season (not to mention recording more than 100 pancakes) and doubled as an all-state wrestler, who ranked among the top heavyweights in Florida.
Griffin went to the mat with The Good Word and grappled with questions about learning by watching on the gridiron last season, wrestling as a training tool for football and the art of the pancake.
THE GOOD WORD: What did you learn from redshirting last season?
Chris Griffin: I feel like it is a lot different. Of course, right now I’m a starter so things have gone from looking at no playing time to a lot of playing time. So there’s a lot on my shoulders. Last year, when I redshirted, I needed it. I got to learn the offense a lot more than I would have if I would have just been thrown out there trying to just do it on the fly. I had Will Jackson and [Ray] Beno helping me along the way last year. [LG] Shamire (Devine) and I ran a lot of second string last year so we got a lot of playing time with the ones and twos during practice. So redshirting helped us a lot actually. Being able to take it slow, take it one play at a time and get the mental process, thinking stuff through and really learning the offense as a whole really benefitted me.
TGW: You dropped 20 pounds during the off-season. How did that help you?
GRIFFIN: I was way too heavy in the spring to play this offense. I was up to 305 and, honestly, was just too slow to play as I needed to play. So I took it upon myself, and with the help of Coach Sisk in the weight room, I changed my eating habits and dropped 20 pounds in a matter of weeks and I kept it off. I feel like I’m playing pretty good right now at 285 so I’m going to try to stick around where I am now and hopefully have a good season at it. In this offense we have to be quick so you don’t want to be too heavy and not be able to move. You have to be agile in this offense. So I feel like at 285 I’m a heck of a lot more agile than I was at 305.
TGW: Is it nice to not have to worry about weight in football as you had to in high school with wrestling?
GRIFFIN: You don’t have to worry about missing weigh-ins for football, although in high school I didn’t really have to worry about it too much because I wrestled at 285 and I was only like 250 my senior year. I had to cut weight my freshman year and wrestle 220 and that was not fun. Not being able to eat before tournaments and stuff, that was not fun.
TGW: Are there any parts of your wrestling training that help you in football?
GRIFFIN: Absolutely. I feel like wrestling has helped me in football more than words can explain. It helps you with your quickness. You need to be agile, definitely be in shape. Really, in my opinion, wrestling is the greatest asset to football players.
TGW: As tall as you were in high school, were you a nightmare to wrestle?
GRIFFIN: (laughs) I was alright in high school. I was state runner-up but I didn’t win the one that counted.
TGW: What is the key to making a good pancake?
GRIFFIN: Chocolate chips. Definitely, chocolate chip pancakes. A lineman’s dream! (laughs) Really the key to the pancake is having lower leverage and being able to roll your hips up under him and pancake him.
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