Sam Griffin is a 6'5/240 football player with an estimated 4.9 second forty-yard-dash. Sam played offensive tackle in 2006 for Don Bosco Prep, a 41-0 winner in the state champion game of the non-public big school division in New Jersey. In fact, Sam played offensive tackle for both his junior and senior years for the Ironmen, but prior to that, Sam was a defensive end. When the University of Cincinnati announced its 2007 football recruiting class earlier this week, it listed Sam as an offensive line candidate. If Griffin can gain some weight and keep that kind of speed, he'd be the fastest of UC's present linemen. In March of 2006, the two fastest Bearcat offensive linemen were Khalil El-Amin and Digger Bujnoch, who both ran 5.1 second forty-yard-dashes.
All recruits have a meeting with Coach Kelly during their official visit, Sam summarized his conversation with the Bearcat head coach. "I have the versatility to play on both sides of the ball because I'm very athletic. The problem with my playing offensive line is I'd have to gain a bunch of weight so he said they'd probably start me out as a defensive end. If I put on the weight they think I can put on, I‘ll probably move to the offensive side of the ball." If Sam can play on the offensive line in college, the questions become twofold. Can Griffin add 40-50 pounds, and if so, how will the added weight affect his speed and quickness?
Most players that play upfront on either the offensive or defensive lines benefit from a year of redshirting since those positions are so physical, but Sam said the idea of sitting out next season was never discussed during his visit. "No, we didn't discuss redshirting. I guess we'll have to wait until camp to see about that." Sam had his own ideas on the subject and made it clear which position he preferred. "I wouldn't mind redshirting, but I think going to the defensive side of the ball I'd be able to play right away. I learned how to play offensive line my junior and senior years because they needed me there, but before that, I always played on defense."
How did Griffin become a Bearcat? Sam explained when the recruiting started, "I guess I started talking to Coach Molnar in December or January." But the recruiting actually started well before that with a high school football event. "I had been to the University of Cincinnati this past fall when we played Centerville on the campus. They showed us around, and I really liked it, especially the weight room." The closer on the deal was Cincinnati's ability to provide a top flight education. "I'm going to major in chemical engineering, and they have one of the best programs in the nation." Sam estimates having a 3.0 GPA at Don Bosco.
Having other players from New Jersey committed to playing at Cincinnati didn't hurt in Griffin's recruitment. "I met Tahree (McQueen) when I was down there on my visit, and I already knew Randy Martinez. I live in Englewood, and he lives in Teaneck. They're really close. Teaneck is the next town over." Griffin and Don Bosco High did not play against any of the schools of the other New Jersey recruits committed to UC even though McQueen's Eastside High School also played in the large school New Jersey state championship game. The Ghosts are a public school and therefore in a separate division from Don Bosco Prep.
The soft spoken big man also claims scholarship offers from Tulsa and Temple along with Division IAA powers New Hampshire and Delaware. Sam said he used to play basketball and baseball, but football took up so much of his time that he eliminated them. The 315 pound bench presser does still play the piano on occasion.
In the Midwest, many high school players seem to dream about playing in the Big Ten conference. That's not the case in New Jersey, and after listening to Sam, Cincinnati would seem to enjoy an advantage over other conferences by returning to the Garden State for players. "The Big East is one of the best, if not THE best conference in college football. They were undefeated in bowls this past year so playing in the Big East is attractive." As a New Jersey kid, Sam admitted an attraction to Rutgers. "I thought about it, but they never offered me."
Sam was one of five players from Don Bosco High School to sign letters of intent on Wednesday to attend Division IA colleges. The others included Matt Simms (QB) to Louisville, Justin Trattou (DE) to Florida, Mike Farr (OL) to Navy and Dan Marcoux (DT) to Akron.
Griffin hopes to be in attendance for Cincinnati's spring football game on Saturday, April 21st.