Sept. 4, 2009
(10:58 a.m.): When UC junior offensive tackle Sam Griffin first arrived at UC, he weighed between 210-220 pounds and the coaching staff wasn’t exactly sure where to play him.
The Bearcats could 1) put massive bulk on him and throw him on the offensive line; 2) slowly increase his weight and use him on the defensive line; or 3) keep him around the same weight and have him compete for a tight end spot.
They had signed Griffin because he was 6-foot-5 and he had the potential to play in a variety of positions. They liked his ability to grow. But before his freshman year, there was still a question as to what position group the coaches should assign him.
“We didn’t know if he was going to be a tight end, defensive lineman or an offensive lineman,” BK said. “We knew we were going to get him bigger, faster and stronger. We took him as a profile guy, 6-foot-5, 210 pounds and he was a quick end in high school – a pass-rushing kind of guy. We just weren’t sure. We had a tall, lanky athletic kid that loved to play and compete.”
Now a junior, Griffin, for his part, said he thought he’d be playing defense by now (many schools didn’t offer him a scholarship because he wasn’t heavy enough), but after playing two games on the offensive line as a true freshman in 2007, that’s where he fit. He participated in five games last season – making the start at right tackle vs. Eastern Kentucky – and he gained nearly 30 pounds from last year to today. When UC takes the field Monday vs. Rutgers, Griffin will trot out as the starting right tackle.
Now, he weighs nearly 280 pounds. Now, he knows where he’s meant to be.
“It was a process,” Griffin said. “I just took it really a pound at a time. That was the work. It was, ‘Just work on gaining five pounds this week.’ I didn’t want it to be soft weight. I took it slow. I tried to gain as much weight as possible, but good, solid weight.”
Making life more difficult for Griffin was his speedy metabolism.
“There was a lot of eating and eating and eating, but conditioning myself also,” Griffin said. “Eating all that food doesn’t really bother me all that much, but I wish I could throw on like 30 pounds. I would gain 15 and lose 10 and gain 15 more and lose 10. It was in five-pound increments.”
Griffin began the season as No. 2 on the right tackle depth chart behind Alex Hoffman, but that quickly changed (Hoffman has since moved to the No. 1 right guard) during training camp. Griffin underwent knee surgery during spring practice, which left him a little behind, but after a solid performance in the spring game, he’s transformed that positive energy into the fall and won a starting job.
“The first few days out here, it was kind of rough for me, getting used to having that much weight,” Griffin said. “This is as big as I’ve ever been in my life. But I still have the great footwork, and I’m using a lot of my quickness and speed to engage in blocks and using a lot of my strength to stay engaged in the blocks throughout the play. I don’t feel like I’ve changed.”
It sounds like senior Jacob Ramsey will start at running back for the Rutgers game, but sophomore Isaiah Pead and redshirt freshman Darrin Williams are close behind. For now, don’t expect junior John Goebel – who’s been bothered this training camp with a hamstring injury – to receive much playing time.
“You start with Jake Ramsey, because he’s the guy that gives us a little bit of everything,” BK said. “Maybe he doesn’t give you the explosive running. But he gives you the blocking, catching the ball out of the backfield, understanding all the protections. Then, I think Pead and Darrin Williams are guys who have a little more electric action to them. They can make big plays.”
But what about playing four running backs in the rotation? That, BK said, is going to be tough.
“You can play multiple backs,” he said. “Whether we can get to four and have enough touches for all them, I don’t know if we can do that. I know we can play more than two backs. Three seems to be manageable. Four could be pushing it.”
This is a cool story by Brian Bennett of espn.com on how UC is using the latest video game technology to help prepare for its opponents. Even video coordinator John Sells gets some love.