Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Mill Creek defensive lineman Kelsey Griffin has made a commitment to the University of South Carolina.
This is one of six features on the Daily Post's Super Six selections for high school football. To see all six athletes, click HERE.
THE GRIFFIN FILE
• Name: Kelsey Griffin
• School: Mill Creek
• Class: Senior
• Position: Defensive lineman
• Height: 6-foot-3
• Weight: 290 pounds
• College choices: Georgia, South Carolina
• Nickname: Big Griffin
• Place of birth: Lawrenceville
• Role model: Dad
• Favorite restaurant: Barberitos
• Favorite store: Nike Outlet
• Favorite teacher: I can’t say just one
• Favorite subject: History
• Text messages I send a month: Too many
• Twitter handle: Not on Twitter
• Superstitions: None
• Funniest teammates: Joe Cox, Jin Han
• Life’s dream: Finish college, have a nice family
• Info file: Griffin started on the Hawks’ defensive line as a freshman and got early offers from many big-time colleges as a sophomore. His list of offers is huge, but he recently narrowed his list down to his two favorites, Georgia and South Carolina.
• Coach Shannon Jarvis’ take: “He makes a lot of plays for us. For a defensive tackle, he’s led us in tackles the past two years. That shows you he gets great penetration and he plays with a really great motor.”
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College football recruiting is all about the hype.
Players make visit after visit, do interview after interview and make grandiose announcements. Recruiting services call frequently to discuss recruits' favorite schools, what coaches called lately and much more.
With that glut of publicity, there wasn't as much available on Mill Creek senior Kelsey Griffin. Scout.com and Rivals.com did stories on him, but they didn't appear as often as some.
"I answered when (the recruiting sites) called, but I guess I didn't have a lot to say about recruiting when they called," Griffin said.
In a recruiting world loaded with hype, it's the one element that hasn't found its way into Griffin's recruitment. He intentionally kept his thoughts private and kept the whole process in perspective up to this day, when his two finalists are Georgia and South Carolina.
As Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis said, he kept recruiting "under control." As much as you can for a 6-foot-3, 290-pound football star, who is ranked as a four-star recruit by Scout and Rivals and the No. 10 (Rivals) and No. 11 (Scout) defensive tackle nationally.
"The biggest thing with Kelsey is he's a grounded kid," Jarvis said. "He kept the recruiting process to himself. The recruiters had to get used to that, too. Kelsey had 40 or 50 offers and did not tell anybody about it. He didn't go crazy about the recruiting process. He couldn't tell you how many stars he has.
"That's a reflection on his parents. They've done a great job with him."
It may sound like Griffin, whose father Craig played at Mississippi Valley State with NFL legend Jerry Rice, didn't like the recruiting process, which is far from the case. He said it was "pretty enjoyable," but also a serious matter.
He didn't need to make a show of it.
"It was never really a hype type of thing for me," Griffin said of recruiting. "I never took it as that. I just took it as I'm doing my job. If I kept doing my job, good things would happen. I'm glad it happened to me, because the first two years I wasn't doing as good as I should in school. Recruiting helped me figure out how important the school aspect was. I guess it took that to turn me around."
Griffin's grades weren't bad early in his high school career, but they weren't great, either. Since the colleges began calling, he has made all A's and B's.
On the field, he has worked hard, too. Strong and powerful, he has led the Hawks in tackles each of the past two seasons from his down lineman spot.
"The greatest things are his explosiveness and sheer strength," Jarvis said. "Even as a freshman, he was a tough kid to single block or even double team. He's big and strong and he plays with a great motor."
Griffin began his Gwinnett Football League career as a running back, an experiment that didn't last long. He soon found his way to the offensive and defensive lines, easily preferring one of those to the other.
"I just don't like (offensive line) at all," said Griffin, who will play in the Under Armour All-American Game after the season. "I like to hit people."
The big lineman will get to do plenty of that this season. His main role hasn't changed --he is expected to be a disruptive force on the defensive line and occupy multiple blockers. Mill Creek's coaches will move him around to various spots on the line to keep offenses from keying on him.
Racking up tackles is what Griffin considers his job. The individual stats matter much less to him than victories. He has placed a great emphasis on this season, with the goal of returning the Hawks to the state playoffs.
They made state for the first time in 2010 and reached the quarterfinals, but fell short of the postseason last year.
"I feel like we're more of a team than last year," Griffin said. "We're closer as a team this year. We know our goals and what we want to do, but we're really not running off our goals, we're running off each other. We keep each other accountable. We just want to take it game by game and keep pushing and pushing, because we know what we can accomplish.
"We definitely think we're going to leave our mark here. We've got the team to do it. We've got the spirit and the heart and the drive to do it. We want to leave the mark, especially our seniors. We want to continue to work hard so the younger players will follow."
Jarvis is pleased with that attitude. He's equally happy with how his star athlete has handled recruiting -- with a limit on the hype.
"He's been heavily recruited the past three years and not once have I seen it affect him on the field or in the weight room," Jarvis said. "Some college coaches have called him a throwback. He's always asking the right questions. It's not about the NFL with Kelsey. He wants to go to a good school and get a degree."