UGA accepted a commitment from a rising sophomore offensive tackle earlier this month.
North Murray’s Luke Griffin was not even halfway to his 16th birthday at the time, and he’s only grown about two inches since he’s been in high school. That doesn’t seem right, does it?
Griffin impressed the Georgia coaches with his effort level and his character at an evaluation camp earlier this month. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Yet Griffin was already at the 6-foot-2 mark on the growth chart and weighing 225 pounds when he exited the fifth grade.
Yes, that’s the fifth-you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me grade.
When his football coach first saw him, he wondered if that was a good-looking freshman or sophomore in the pipeline. Griffin was just on his way to middle school.
That’s why the now nearly 6-foot-6, 282-pounder is exactly the kind of man mountain Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman visualizes for his offensive line.
Griffin got his first offer from Georgia this month, and his mind immediately began churning.
He went to at least five Georgia games last year. He sat in Sanford Stadium and thought to himself that if he ever got an offer from the Bulldogs, it would be over.
It was. It took about five minutes to tell Kirby Smart there was no way he was leaving his office as anything but a Bulldog.
“I kept thinking to myself if he was for real,” Griffin said. “I immediately started thinking if I was going to commit right then. So I guess it took me a few minutes. I really don’t remember what he said right after he said I had a full scholarship offer. I made sure I told him I was a Bulldog before that meeting was over.”
That took about five minutes. Go ahead and expect a placekicker to flip him in a wrestling match before he flips his commitment.
“I got home after committing to Georgia and walked into my room and saw all the Georgia stuff in my room,” Griffin said. “I’m committed to Georgia. This was a life-long dream for me to get an offer from Georgia and I was pretty much an on-the-spot commitment. Don’t expect me to play anywhere else. I don’t even have a No. 2 school. I want to be a Bulldog. I am nothing but a Georgia Bulldog.”
Pittman kept it simple when he laid out his potential path.
Griffin will wear No. 54 this year at North Murray High School. That is a nod to former NFL All-Pro LB Brian Urlacher. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
“He said I was going to get my weight up to about 305 or 310 pounds. He said I will run under a 4.9 in the 40-yard dash,” Griffin said. He said I will be at least 6-foot-6, too. That’s NFL draft material. He said if you do all that, then I am already telling you now that you will very likely get drafted.”
Griffin still can’t wrap his arms that cover an 85-inch wingspan around that.
“That’s like four years from now before I’ll be playing at Georgia,” Griffin said. “That all seems like totally a dream. This can’t be real and happening to me to be already committed to my dream school before I start my sophomore year in high school.”
Why is it his reality? Check out what the soon-to-be-sophomore has on prospect data sheet up to this point:
- He’s bench pressing 280 pounds with an impressive 300-pound power clean at that height. He’s squatting another 450 pounds and can run the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds.
- Griffin was measured by UGA with an 85-inch wingspan on his last visit. That body frame makes sense, given he already is in a size-17 cleat.
- He was already called “The Little Freak” by Pittman and “another J.J. Watt” by his former high school coach. “He is just so big and physical but he is also more athletic than anybody he plays,” former North Murray coach David Gann said. “He weighs 280 pounds but could still carry 40 more pounds and still be able to move.”
- He won a dunk contest with a 6-foot-5 middle school teacher back when he was in the eighth grade. He won the event by performing a 180-degree dunk, a tomahawk and an effort he bounded off the backboard and slammed home at a pep rally.
- Griffin started both ways last year at offensive tackle and on the defensive line. He did not give up a sack. He graded out at 89 percent for the year. That included facing a pair of senior defensive ends that would sign with Auburn and Georgia Tech, respectively.
- Alabama offered Griffin a few days after he committed to UGA. Clemson should not be far behind. Alabama receivers coach Billy Napier hails from the same county Griffin calls home, but UGA earned the quick commitment because he has always loved the school. He chose not to attend an Alabama camp which would have been held shortly after his pledge to UGA.
- Gann said that Griffin would have started for North Murray as a seventh-grader on the line. He added that the young man would’ve started for just about any high school team around as an eighth-grader.
- Prep players aren’t allowed to play varsity ball in middle school, so Griffin tore it up as part of the freshman and junior varsity teams at a variety of positions. He dabbled some at linebacker because of his vast athleticism and was also a red zone tailback. Gann called him “the best player on the field all season long.”
- He’s no redshirt kindergartener. Given his January birthday, he’s actually considered just right — or perhaps a little young — for his grade level.
Griffin still wears his name sticker from the UGA camp that earned him his offer on the back of his helmet. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Griffin already has an impressive starter set of UGA memorabilia. He has a pair of Georgia gloves from Todd Gurley from a game in 2015. He’s since added a pair from Nick Chubb.
- Gann said he’s the type of kid “who will hug your neck when he sees you and give you a call on your birthday. He’s just a great young man. When people meet him, I’m used to them telling me they already love him.”
- Griffin said he’s not only in church every Sunday, but also every Wednesday night, too. “I know without the good Lord I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today and have the ability I have and be able to play the game the way I do. When I look at other people who can’t play the game, it makes me feel amazing that God blessed me with this ability. There’s a reason why he wanted me to be this big and to play football.”
- Gann also said the rising sophomore’s best skill is his athleticism: “There is no doubt about that,” Gann said. “He is such a good athlete you can show him something one time and he gets it. His football IQ is second to none. You should see his highlight tape. There are a few clips where he completely drives his man to the track like that guy in “The Blind Side” movie. … Once he gets on linebackers they can’t get away because he’s more athletic than they are.”
Don’t expect anyone to flip him. Even two years from now. Griffin still has the name tag stuck to his helmet from his Kirby Smart Camp visit which earned the offer. He won’t take it off all summer. Not until his first scrimmage game.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
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