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.”