Griffin impressed with BYU

De La Salle High School cornerback Kevin Griffin took part in BYU's Junior Day last Friday. He competed in the drills and was able to see what BYU has to offer. What he learned gave him a new perspective of what he would like to have at the next level.

During BYU's Junior Day the Cougar coaching staff worked out many of the prospects in attendance, and that includes 6-foot-1-inch, 180-pound Kevin Griffin from De La Salle.

"It was great and there was a lot of competition on the field," said Griffin. "I feel like I did really well. During the one-on-one part of the camp I did really well. There weren't a lot of DBs, so I got a lot of work in."

The feedback Griffin received was positive and informative.

"[Coach Howell] said I was probably one of the best DBs out there. He said I have really good feet and hips," Griffin said. "He said he wanted me to work on my stop-and-go speed, so my breaks for when receivers run hitches and stuff. That's one thing I know I need to work on because I've been running track, so I haven't been working on too much football stuff. He said that I have a lot of speed so I can cover a lot of ground. He really liked that.

"BYU is like the Mormon version of Notre Dame. I like how they're independent so they can go and play whoever they want. Coach Howell asked me if I would be comfortable being on a team where everyone is watching you. He asked me if I would be comfortable playing in front of the Mormon community and if I could handle the pressure. I told him that I love the pressure and that to me it's more opportunity and not pressure."

Accompanied by his grandmother Bonnis Topel, who graduated from BYU years ago, Griffin toured the campus and facilities.

"She thought it was cool but she said it changed so much," Griffin said with a slight laugh. "She said it was very different. She graduated in the 1970s, so things have changed quite a bit. She thinks I could fit into that school really well and thinks it would help me grow as a person. She thinks highly of the school and feels it would be perfect for me, because the education is really good and there aren't any distractions there. I could stay focused and grow as a person.

"Overall it was just really great. The campus is really nice and the facilities are really nice. I got a chance to go to the locker room and the athletic room. They had a big ol' room full of shoes and they said it wasn't even filled up, but it was filled up to me. The players are treated really well there, and I got a chance to try on a BYU jersey with my number – 32. That was really nice. We went to the stadium and got to check that out. It was nice. We walked in and the guy we were with told us that when people walk on an alarm system goes off and alerts the police, so the police showed up and that was pretty cool. Then the indoor practice facility was really nice and it's one of the biggest indoor practice facilities on any campus."

Sure, the football facilities at BYU are topnotch, but what makes BYU unique is the quality of the environment and friendliness of the people. Griffin experienced this aspect of BYU as well.

"The people are more calm and laidback and nice," he said. "That was really different and I really liked that a lot. It was really different. I really like the coaching staff a lot and they're really honest with you. It's a great program all the way around and they really work hard. I would really like to be a part of something like that. Coach Howell was asking me how I would fit in and how it would work for me being there since I'm not LDS. I told him how I never found so much brotherhood and acceptance, and that's one of BYU's main things is brotherhood and how they always have each other's back and they don't give up and [they] work so hard for each other. It just reminded me so much of De La Salle because we really focus on those keys."

When Junior Day was over, some players were called in to see Coach Mendenhall in his office. Griffin was one such player.

"I got to go into Coach Mendenhall's office and talk to him one-on-one," said Griffin. "We talked about what it's like going to BYU and how it's not just all about football. It's about giving back to the community, getting a good education, becoming a better man and becoming that whole person. Football isn't going to last forever, and so you have to have those other values to be a successful person. I agree with that and really liked it."

BYU wasn't quite like what Griffin expected.

"It was really nice and it actually did open my eyes," said Griffin. "I thought it was going to be more like you couldn't do anything and pretty much be on lockdown. I talked to some of the players there and they really enjoy it. They told me how it really changed them to be a better person and grow to become better people.

"They said that it is hard to recruit because they have to find good players that can follow the rules and live the standards. Something that stuck out to me was that even though that is the case, BYU's defense was ranked third in the nation last year. They were number-one on goal line stands and were tops in other categories. That was something that really stuck out to me because it shows how defense is a big part of the program. I would really like to be a part of that. We watched a lot of their highlights from last year, and everyone was flying around to the ball. Coach Howell talked about how at the end of every defensive play he expects to see all 11 defensive players on the field around the ball. Their defense is just so high-powered and I would love to be a part of something like that."

Griffin was able to spend some extra time with Coach Howell the following day.

"Coach Howell really liked me and we sat down and ate lunch together on Saturday," said Griffin. "He wanted to get to know me and asked me how I could see myself at BYU and everything. I think I would be a good fit at BYU, but I didn't get that offer like I wanted to."

Griffin had many memorable experiences during his visit. Trying to pick a single camp highlight wasn't possible for the talented defensive back.

"The highlight? Well, there were a lot," Griffin said. "I liked being able to practice at the level that Coach Howell practices at and being able to learn his drills. I worked out last Saturday and Sunday with those drills, and I think it's going to make me a better player and I'm going to take those back with me. Another highlight was also being able to put on that BYU jersey. I thought that was pretty cool. They do this Thursday's Heroes program and I think that is great. I think it's great to give back to the community, because if I make it to the NFL that's going to be one of my priorities is to give back to those who don't have as much. I just think that is really important, so it was cool to see how BYU does that."

Although Griffin left BYU's campus without a scholarship offer, it only strengthened his resolve. He's going to go back home and continue to work hard in the hopes he can secure a BYU scholarship.

"They said he's going to keep on checking up with me over the summer and watching my first couple of games to see if they want to offer me," said Griffin. "They don't know if they want to offer me as a corner or safety, and they said they're only going to take one in this class, so I just have to keep working hard and everything will work out. That's what I plan on doing because they're going to continue to recruit me."

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