A running back during the fall in middle school, Griffin completed his eighth-grade year as a standout member of his school’s track and field team. He competed in meets throughout the summer and went on to win national AAU titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
“I was the fastest kid in the country,” he said.
And then it was over.
Griffin gave up track and field to focus solely on football as he entered high school. It’s a sport he had been playing since he was in kindergarten, and it was the sport that drew his attention.
“After winning nationals, I just stopped (running track),” said Griffin, a member of the 2014 Marietta Daily Journal Dynamite Dozen. “I put it down because football just took over. I just love the game. I love playing with my teammates and everything it brings.”
The decision to commit to football has paid off for Griffin, a McEachern senior entering his third year as a starting running back. It’s the position he’s played since he began playing the sport, and just last season, Griffin totaled 996 yards on 127 carries with eight touchdowns for the Indians.
The decision to switch from track to football was a difficult one.
“It was a bittersweet kind of thing,” Griffin said. “Track was fun and all, but with football, it was hard to do both sports. Over the summer, you have to do your football workouts and stuff. It was just really hard doing track workouts and football, so I had to pick one, and I just liked football more, so that’s what it came down to.”
Griffin’s decision paid dividends when he made his commitment to play collegiately at Oregon. He mulled more than 40 scholarship offers before making his final decision following a visit to the Ducks’ campus.
“At first, it was really tough to narrow it down,” Griffin said. “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted, and I hadn’t seen the majority of the schools. I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
“Oregon offered, so then I thought I knew I had to take a visit to see if I’d like it or not. Me and my parents took a trip out there. We saw everything, and I just fell in love with the place. I knew it was the place for me.”
Griffin will be the third of three brothers to play college football, joining Tre, who played at Georgia Southern, and Ty, who Taj will be reunited with at Oregon after the former transferred from Georgia Tech.
“We talked to the coaches, and told them about my brother, Ty,” Taj Griffin said. “They reached out to him and offered him a scholarship also because I always wanted to play with my brother on the next level. So, he transferred from Georgia Tech, and he’s out there right now. It’s been really exciting the past couple of months.”
Ty Griffin will sit out the 2014 season as a transfer and will be active as a sophomore in 2015, as Taj begins his career as a Duck.
The upcoming months should be exciting as well, as McEachern attempts to win its first state championship. If it happens, Griffin will likely play a big role.
“I’ve been a running back since I’ve been playing football,” he said. “I’ve always been fast. I’ve always, kind of, had it in me. My strengths are my speed, agility and my vision. I’m able to see the gaps.
“I’m looking forward to being with these guys and seeing how far we can go. I’m hoping to get to the championship and win a state championship because I think we have a great group of guys. I definitely can’t do it myself. We have a great offensive line, great defense and a great coaching staff, so I feel like we can go all the way.”
Griffin admits he’s missed running track since dedicating himself to football. It’s the competition that’s driven him, which is part of the reason he might make another appearance on the track before heading off to Oregon.
“I really did love it,” he said. “I like competing, and you can really see who actually is the best of the best. I liked the competing aspect of track and winning, so, yeah, I miss it, but I kind of moved on to other things.
“I actually might run this year for my school. I really won’t have anything to do in between that period after the season is over and during the offseason before going off to college. I just might go out for the track team and ultimately, hopefully, win a state championship in my events. We’ll see if I still got it.”