McEachern’s Taj Griffin out for year with torn ACL
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
August 26, 2014 04:00 AM | 5381 views | 15 15 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
McEachern running back Taj Griffin tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Saturday against North Gwinnett and will miss the remainder of the season. Staff/Kelly J. Huff
McEachern running back Taj Griffin tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Saturday against North Gwinnett and will miss the remainder of the season. Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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Taj Griffin, McEachern’s 5-star running back and University of Oregon commitment, has a torn anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the remainder of his senior season.

Griffin, after rushing for 138 yards and three touchdowns, injured his knee late in the fourth quarter of the Indians’ 52-49 loss to North Gwinnett in Saturday’s final game of the Corky Kell Classic. Griffin, part of the punt coverage team, was trying to make a tackle and it appeared as if his knee gave way as he planted and reached for the ball carrier.

After being helped off the field, Sports South sideline reporter Ashley Rosenberg said she heard Griffin say he heard something pop in his knee.

Initially, the coaches thought the injury to be a sprain, but Herb Griffin, Taj Griffin’s father, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Monday’s MRI showed the tear.

“Yes, he’s going to be out for the year,” Herb Griffin said. “The MRI came back and showed that he tore his ACL.

“But you know, he’s in positive spirits. He’s getting his mind right to go through rehab and to get his mind right for next level.

“That’s where we are right now.”

Griffin is listed as the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country by 247Sports. He chose Oregon over Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Ohio State and 25 other Division I scholarship offers.

“It’s a tough situation for him,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman said. “It will be something he’ll have to really fight through.”

Hockman said Griffin began treatment on his knee as soon as the torn ACL was confirmed Monday. Doctors at Emory Hospital in Atlanta began efforts to reduce the swelling and improve Griffin’s range of motion. His surgery to repair the ligament will likely occur in the next 10 days to two weeks.

What was supposed to be a banner season for McEachern has gotten off to an auspicious start. After becoming the first Cobb County team to open a season as the No. 1 team in the state, they lost Saturday’s game to North Gwinnett in the final 9 seconds. Now, they have lost the biggest playmaker on the team.

Backup Michael Nwagbara was the only other running back to carry the ball against the Bulldogs. He had three carries for six yards. But Hockman said Monday was not the day to think who would replace Griffin in the backfield, especially with their next game against Buford not until Sept. 5.

“We have some guys coming,” Hockman said. “But that’s the last thing we’re worried about. We just want to be there for Taj, and whatever he needs.”

Comments
(15)
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e-md
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August 28, 2014
Coaching at the high school level is very important

Hockman was out coached by north gwinnett

Why call a pass play on 3rd down with less than 2 mins on the clock. And not use your star running back even as a decoy

????????????????????

But the punt team Hmmmmm????????
Doc Holliday
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August 28, 2014
@Been There

You are missing the point in my opinion.

Comparing Taj's injury to Malcolm Mitchell's is no where close. Mitchell was celebrating and it was a freak accident, Taj was in an athletic situation where he was put on the field to utilize his talents and was injured on the play. What makes it senseless is that it was punt coverage, not offense, not defense, not even punt return...punt coverage.

You want the best athletes on the field, but in the correct manner. If injury happens for Griffin in an offensive series, so be it because that is how McEachern is going to win or lose with him. You don't put your best athlete and an ESSENTIAL piece to your team anywhere close to the punt coverage team and take the risk of injury because now where does it leave them? They lost the game, lost their best player and he now has to rehab before college due to blown punt coverage.

Those that don't agree with that point aren't in tune with modern day sport strategy in my opinion.
Coach Wanted
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August 29, 2014
@been there mistakenly attempts to extend my "football opinion" to make his societal commentary. Political leanings notwithstanding, sound strategist in any endeavor do a risk-reward assessment. Given that, Coach Hockman's decision to use his most valuable OFFENSIVE weapon on punt coverage leads back to my original question: "What the hell was he thinking?"

I'm left to assume that "Been there" and Coach took it too literally when ESPN ranked Griffin the nation's #1 "All-purpose back."

Conspicuously absent in his reply was any defense of Coach H's embarrassing playoff record that I referenced to support my negative opinion of his coaching acumen.
Been there
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August 31, 2014
Hey Doc:

Looks like Georgia and Clemson use "their best players on special teams" too. Alabama, Auburn and FSU yesterday too.

Maybe their coaches are "out of tune with modern day sport strategy" too.

Coach Wanted
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August 27, 2014
First off, I fell terrible for Taj. He's a fine young man from a great family. He's also arguably the best HS athletes Cobb county has ever produced. He's a member of a team that has been taunted as one of the county's most talent rich in recent memory. This begs the question: "Why the hell was he being used as a gunner on their punt coverage team?" McEachern more than probably any team in the state, has a roster full of very athletic, aggressive underclassmen waiting their turn that would kill for a chance to make a name for themselves getting playing time on special teams.

Notwithstanding the miracle (very fortuitous) run to the semis last year, Coach Hockman has done "less with more" than just about any coach in the state during his tenure. (Check his playoff history- it speaks for itself) To risk a RB of this potential on special teams, is beyond ridiculous. I agree that injuries are a part of the game. But I'd like to see you make that point to Dawgs fans if Todd Gurley was to go out in this manner- covering a punt.

With their coaching genius at the helm, you can write it down: McEachern with start the season 1-3 After they get mauled by Buford and Lovejoy. That is IF they can find a way to self-coach their way past Peachtree Ridge. Athletic Director Dorsey, are you listening?
Been there
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August 28, 2014
This is truly the new America where everyone wants to blame someone else for something that didn’t work out perfectly for them.

Injuries are a part of the game. Malcom Mitchell tore his ACL celebrating a touchdown. Taj could have torn his on any offensive or defensive play and just because it was a punt late in the game doesn’t mean that you have a bad coach. You have an outstanding coach who knows that when the game is on the line against the two best teams in the state you don’t take any chances with personnel. NONE. You want your best 11 people on the field in that situation and Taj is certainly in that group.

I am a North Cobb fan and wish Taj a 100% full recovery. I regret that he will not be able to play when we meet later. Kids that rehab well come back stronger and I am certain this will be the case with Taj.

WestCobb5
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August 28, 2014
@Been there

Very well said. Great coach. Great kid. I actually thought a clever "punt" formation. Unfortunate result.
Been There
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August 29, 2014
Coach Wanted:

If Georgia was number one in the nation and leading number 2 Alabama with 3 minutes to play I could certainly see Gurley inserted if Richt felt it was best for the team. I can recall seeing Hershel Walker inserted to return kickoffs more than a few times over his last two years there when the game was on the line late.

Get over it. You still have a great coach and a great team. Taj, as an individual, will be missed greatly, but the team, as a whole, can certainly regroup and refocus and perform at a higher level (for Taj). It might be the chemistry you guys have been missing.

Doc Holliday
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August 27, 2014
Have to agree with Football Team here.

With one of the best players on your roster and a shot at a state title, you have to protect your commodities. Putting something so valuable to your entire teams success on punt coverage is a poor decision.

Now an elite players senior season is done when an underclassman could have done the job.
always an indian
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August 27, 2014
Football Team, you're an idiot.
Football Team
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August 27, 2014
WestCobb5, thanks for that informative remark. What level of education have you achieved?
WestCobb5
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August 26, 2014
Hang in there Taj. Can't wait to stay up late Sat. nights watching you at Oregon.
Football Team
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August 26, 2014
Dumbest coaching I ever heard of. Your teams top running back on punt return coverage and gets hurt. Surely McEachern has plenty of players to fill special teams. Will coaches ever learn?

Football fan
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August 26, 2014
Actually, the play in which Taj was injured was not a mear punt return. In fact, it was part of an offensive set that McE runs regularly and one with which Taj was both quite familiar and well seasoned at executing. Whatever team you cheer for, it is a gross exaggeration and completely out of line to blame a player's injury on a coach. Kids play sports; kids get injured. It happens at every level of competitive sport. Rather, the injured player should be lifted up by his teammates, coaches, and community so that he can maintain the positive attitude he currently has according to his father.
Football Team
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August 26, 2014
Football Fan, Call it whatever you want, using your Offensive players on Special Teams is not smart coaching and what usually gets them hurt. If you notice the majority of all NFL teams have a completely different roster of players on Special Teams. Most College Teams also. But your right, I should and do support the players. Let's see how "McE" does this year without their Senior and Top running back and let's see if Oregon will even want him this year after he misses his entire Senior season.
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