Luke Griffin is okay. Whew. Let’s start with that.
The four-star offensive tackle from North Murray High in North Georgia is just a sophomore. But he’s already committed to Georgia. He already stands a daunting 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs in at 282 pounds.
But Griffin is on the shelf this week after sustaining a concussion Friday night at Heritage High in Ringgold. His father Jason Griffin — who coached him over the years in youth football — can’t really describe what happened.
He just knows his family is “blessed” because it looked a whole lot worse. A whole lot.
Griffin was on the phone most of the weekend sharing what happened to the nation’s No. 71 overall prospect in the Class of 2019.
It was, in short, harrowing.
“The coaching aspect was completely out of my mind on Friday night,” Jason Griffin said. “It was more a parent seeing their child laying there unconscious on the field for at least 15 minutes on the field with no response. He wasn’t responding to anything at all for at least 15 minutes.”
His son’s facemask was removed, but none of the emergency medical personnel could get him to respond. Luke Griffin did not open his eyes, but the paramedics kept saying his breathing was good, his pulse was good and he was able to swallow.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say it probably took every bit of 20 minutes to get the ambulance there and get him loaded into the ambulance,” Jason Griffin said.
Jason Griffin can’t fill in the blank about what actually happened. He never saw the knee slam into his son’s helmet while he was playing defense on the losing end of a 28-16 score. His son plays both ways and he made a tackle and then took a knee to the head.
The coaches at North Murray gave him that detail.
“The paramedics kept asking him before he got into the ambulance that they wanted him to move something and just to move his hand for us,” Jason Griffin said. “So he moved his pointer finger just a little so all the paramedics and everybody were just cheering him on.”
Griffin was taken to Erlanger Hosptial about 17 miles away in Tennessee. He was actually released early Saturday morning about five hours after the ordeal. Jason Griffin said the medical personnel which didn’t even see the need for a CT scan.
Jason Griffin said the medical personnel that cared for his son did not see the need for a CT scan.
“That really shocked us,” Jason Griffin said. “They tested him all out and everything looked well so they let us take him home. … Seeing how he looked on the field and seeing him released a few hours from that was really amazing. … I am talking unresponsive as in no response to being released just a few hours later.”
It is worth sharing happened in those 20 minutes while Griffin came around. It says a lot about the crowd at the game. That’s what the Griffins really get emotional about.
“When he got hurt there were only about three minutes left in the game and he was laying on the field,” Jason Griffin said.
Griffin then saw the North Murray trainer go out to the field and then saw an aide go running off after his bag. He initially thought it might be a broken finger. Then the coaches came out. From both teams.
“When I really knew something was not right was at the time all of the referees gathered together really close to Luke and held hands and started to pray,” Jason Griffin said. “That’s when my wife and I hit the field because we knew then something was not right with our son.”
While Griffin was down, the North Murray crowd began to sing the gospel hymn “Amazing Grace” and the Heritage side soon joined in, too.
“It was just an awesome atmosphere,” Jason Griffin said. “The stadium was so quiet for awhile you could’ve heard a pin drop and then our fans started signing and all the other people joined in. Then all the people at our rival school here in Murray County have flooded us with emails and text messages and calls about Luke. It has been really amazing. It makes you really proud to live here in a community like this.”
Griffin said he’s probably answered about 150-200 calls or text messages regarding his son. He also wanted to share how grateful he was to everyone involved. The president of the booster club at Heritage gave him a ride to the emergency room. He received a pair of text messages of support from the head coach at Heritage plus all the overwhelming kindness that would be expected out of the North Murray staff.
The next step for Griffin is for him to see his primary care physician on Friday for a re-check. The family will go from there.
“I’m assuming for this week he is probably under the regular concussion protocol,” Jason Griffin said.
Expect Griffin to continue his career after he gets a clearance to return. That is what Luke loves and wants to do.
“Luke doesn’t remember anything about it,” Jason Griffin said. “He did say something about it after he was better and in the hospital and could function. He said what was strange was he could hear everybody on the field talking to him. The paramedics and all that. But he told me ‘what was strange was I couldn’t open my eyes and react and couldn’t do anything but I could hear everybody talking to me’ so that’s what he remembered. But he couldn’t remember the play or anything else like that.”
Griffin did watch the Bulldogs play on television on Saturday afternoon. The life-long Georgia fan couldn’t go without watching the Bulldogs and the rest of college football on Saturday.
Well…. something great happened Saturday in Athens
It was not a totally underwhelming Saturday in Athens. Xavier Thomas, the nation’s No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2018, took his first visit to Athens for the (gulp) Nicholls State game.
It seems the class must have turned the result into a positive for the recruiting trail. Thomas left Athens very pleased and even tweeted out a very good sign on Saturday evening.
— Xavier Thomas 1️⃣9️⃣ (@atxlete) September 10, 2016
Thomas told Scout.com’s Chad Simmons spoke to Thomas after the visit and he said that Georgia coach Kirby Smart told him that they needed a player like him out there against the Colonels. Thomas also told Simmons it was one of the best visits he’s been on.
That Top 3 status seems very significant. Why? Well, that was his first trip to Athens for starters. The second reason was because the nearly 6-foot-3 and 249-pounder established a Top 4 during the summer and Georgia wasn’t even on the list.
It means Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and South Carolina have a new team to contend with in the race for Thomas.
What can Thomas do? I’ll share a couple of tweets that offer up a glimpse of his mindset and what he can do on the field.
Extremely Blessed to be named the Number 1 player in the ESPN 300 and I'm still going to grind like I'm ranked #300 ????? #BLESSEDUP
— Xavier Thomas 1️⃣9️⃣ (@atxlete) July 28, 2016
Too bad they only ran the ? to my side 3 times even though I kept switching sides, but hey just gotta deal with it. pic.twitter.com/5LjP5VuCdL
— Xavier Thomas 1️⃣9️⃣ (@atxlete) September 11, 2016
National team recruiting rankings check
I try to monitor the team recruiting rankings as big commits come in and also try to make sure to keep everyone informed as to where the Bulldogs stand among the national leaders.
Georgia currently, stands No. 4 in the 247Sports Composite team recruiting rankings. The Bulldogs have 15 commitments at this time. They trail No. 1 Ohio State followed by Alabama and LSU.
The Bulldogs are also the only program in the Top 5 that has less than 18 commitments at this time. Their average rating of 93.94 per commitment trails only the 95.20 mark recorded by Ohio State.
Georgia just has one 5-star commitment (Richard LeCounte III) at this time and are not projected to add any more unless four-star quarterback Jake Fromm receives an upgrade to five-star status. He very well should given the way he is playing. (Fromm totaled up another 495 yards and seven touchdowns last Friday night.)
The Buckeyes already have commitments from six 5-star prospects. That’s staggering. That’s one more commitment from a 5-star recruit than the rest of the teams in the Top 5 team rankings have combined.
Follow Jeff Sentell 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.