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 wears No. 54 at North Murray High School. That is a nod to former NFL All-Pro LB Brian Urlacher. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
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 impressed the Georgia coaches with his effort level and his character at an evaluation camp this summer. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
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.
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