Griffin Never Gave Up

If there was ever a Maroon badge of courage award, it should probably be named after Bulldog back Nick Griffin. As a member of the 2010 signing class, Griffin was the top running back prospect in the state of Mississippi. As he understudied behind future NFLers Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins, Griffin was expected to be the next in a long line of great backs, then disaster struck, twice.

As his promising career was literally just beginning, Griffin tore an ACL and underwent season ending surgery on his ailing knee.

The New Augusta, Mississippi native worked hard to recover and rehab his knee in hopes of returning to action the following year.

Just as Griffin was rounding back into form, the Perry Central product was once again sidelined with another torn ACL. The bite from the injury bit even harder this time.

If #7 had elected to clean out his locker and just finish out his college education, no one would have blamed him. The road back was hard and frustrating at times, but Griffin was committed to ending his football playing career on the field rather than the sidelines.

"Giving it up crossed my mind," admitted Griffin. "This program doesn't train you to quit, so I just couldn't do that. It was hard sometimes. It really was, but I just couldn't give it up. I didn't want it to end like that."

One driving force behind Griffin's recovery was the encouragement from Mississippi State running backs' coach Greg Knox. When times got tough, Griffin would turn to Knox for guidance.

"Coach Knox is more like a father to me than a coach," said Griffin. "He doesn't just care about Nick Griffin the football player. He cares about Nick Griffin the person too.

"He has done a lot for me and I really appreciate him. He wants to see everyone one of us mature and grow up to be men on the field and off of the field. I just can't say enough about how he has helped me."

While life proved to be especially cruel to Griffin at times, Knox coached him with no thoughts of Griffin not returning to action.

"Coach Knox wants us to know everything," said Griffin. "When we watch film, we don't just watch the running backs. We watch everything. He wants us to know what the receiver is supposed to do on this play, what the guard is going to do and what the quarterback's reads are.

"He expects us to know the entire offense. It makes you a better running back to know what the man beside you is supposed to do."

Often with leg propped up to rest in a chair, Griffin soaked it all in like a sponge.

Now a senior, Griffin knows this is the final season of his college career. In the season opener against Southern Miss, the Bulldog offensive unit worked hard together as a unit to get Griffin's final Bulldog campaign off on the right foot.

One of the more popular players in the Bulldog locker room, Griffin carried the ball five times for a 42 yards on a seven play scoring drive that ended with Griffin in the paydirt after a one yard plunge.

"It really meant a lot to me for my teammates to want to see me do good," said Griffin. "I appreciate all of them and I appreciate all of the things they have done for me."

Five years into the program, Griffin is now serving as a mentor and role model for Bulldog rushing pups Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams.

"They are both doing really good," said Griffin of the talented freshmen. "Once they learn everything and learn the plays, they have a chance to be two of the greatest backs Mississippi State has ever seen together. They are going to be really good."

Griffin and his fellow seniors have been to four straight bowl games, with a fifth already guaranteed at the end of the 2014 season.

The group has taken Mississippi State football to historic heights and accomplished things no other group of Bulldog seniors have before.

"It feels to good to see all of the work that I have put in and these seniors have put in is paying off," said Griffin. "It makes me feel better about gutting it out and just sticking with it.

"I didn't quit and look where we are now.

"Everybody's mindset has changed from the players, to the coaches, the strength staff and even the trainers.

"We just want to win. We all do from the equipment managers to Dak Prescott, we are all in and ready to win."

The Bulldogs will host Tennessee-Martin this week for homecoming. Griffin reports that the Maroon and White will be ready for the Skyhawks come Saturday.

"They are a feisty bunch," said Griffin. "They like to blitz a lot and play a lot of zero coverage. We have to keep our eyes open and our heads on a swivel to see where they are.

"We're all still focused this week like we were last week and the week before that. We know that we have a job to do and we're all working hard to play hard this Saturday. We aren't overlooking anybody and we're going into the game expecting to play well."

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