Thursday, March 27, 2014
Getting to know Taj Griffin
By Gerry Hamilton
ROSWELL, Ga. -- When listing the most explosive prospects in the Class of 2015, it does not take long to call on Taj Griffin.
The 5-foot-10, 174-pound, versatile running back was one of the standouts at last weekend's Atlanta Nike Nike Football Training Camp and SPARQ combine, earning an invitation to the The Opening in early July.
Taj Griffin, ranked No. 19 in the ESPN Junior 300, is one of the fastest prospects in the 2015 class.
He ran a laser-timed 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 4.35 shuttle and recorded a jaw-dropping 46-inch vertical on the way to a SPARQ score of 124.29, ranking among the nation's best this spring.
His standout performance comes on the heels of a junior campaign in which he rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns, helping lead McEachern High to an 11-3 record. He has already received 20 scholarship offers.
Griffin does not appear to be in a rush to decide.
“Really [I'm] visiting a lot schools right now and learning about a lot of schools,” Griffin said. “That’s where I’m at. I don’t know when I will make a decision. I have thought about signing day, but I’m not sure. It’s kind of whenever it happens, but I plan to make official visits,” Griffin said.
Three schools are on the list to receive official visits.
“I’m definitely taking one to Oregon. I’m definitely taking one to Clemson, and I will also take one to UGA,” Griffin said.
Even though Griffin is focused on football, he might make one more run at being a two-sport athlete at the next level.
“My initial love was football, but then I got into track and loved track, too. Football kind of took over to where I had to pick a sport, so it kind of went to football," he said. "I wouldn’t mind running track in college. I won nationals in the 100-meter and 200-meter in the eighth grade. I’m a sprinter in track, and also did the long jump. My focus now is football, though, but I have thought about running track in college, too."
Sports are a family affair for the Griffins. Taj Griffin will be the third son of Herb Griffin to play at the college level following Ty Griffin (Georgia Tech) and Tre Griffin (Georgia Southern).
Taj Griffin gives the bulk of the credit for his development to his father.
“My father, he’s always pushing me to make that extra effort. Get that extra work in … he’s always there to push me on days when I don’t feel like going out and getting that extra work in. I don’t feel like I would be where I am today without him.” Taj Griffin said.
About his recruitment: Oregon received an unofficial visit in mid-March, and the Ducks are very much in the hunt for Griffin because of how he fits into the Ducks' scheme. Clemson is another good scheme fit, according to Griffin, and home state Georgia has proximity. Ohio State is another potential scheme fit, and Florida State and USC are two others on Griffin’s short list. Should teammates Chuma Edoga and T.J. Rahming end up committing to Tennessee, the Vols could be a serious factor. Both of his brothers signed with in-state programs.
Scouting profile: Griffin is a big-play back with some of the best pure speed and elusiveness in this class. Lack of every-down attributes diminishes his stock some, but he should develop into a highly productive all-purpose back at the college level and a potent weapon if used creatively in a spread. Supreme acceleration and speed; can turn the corner and go the distance, outrunning second-level angles. Goes from 0-60 in a hurry, allowing him to exploit small creases for big gainers. – Billy Tucker
Handicapping the race: If Oregon were closer to home, this recruitment would be a near slam dunk for the Ducks. Programs with proximity such as Clemson and Georgia could be pivotal at the end of the day. Griffin has a strong relationship with Bulldogs running back coach Bryan McClendon and head coach Mark Richt.