MSU Football Remembered: Justin Griffith

One of the most talented and most respected Mississippi State football players of the past several years is current Atlanta Falcons fullback Justin Griffith. Griffith was known as a tireless worker and a punishing ball carrier while at MSU. Justin continues to be a great ambassador for the Maroon and White and was gracious enough to grant an interview about his playing days in Starkville.

Justin Griffith Profile Page

SR: Justin what made you choose Mississippi State?

JG: Mississippi State fit the same type of running style and offense that I was a part of at Magee High School. They really used the running backs in the offense and they really loved hard knocking football. That was one thing that really stood out about Mississippi State when I was taking my recruiting visits. They loved to get out there and hit and they loved to get out there and really, really play hard. I always thought that was fun to be a part of sitting in the stands and after I started putting the pads on when I got to Mississippi State.

It was a great decision. My twin brother (Julius) also loved going there. It was almost a family thing. We had me and my brother as well as my cousin, Slovakia, there all at the same time.

SR: Julius is probably best known for returning the blocked extra point back in the Snow Bowl. I know that is a great memory for you all. What are some others?

JG: The Ole Miss game where I caught the long pass down the sidelines. That helped us win the ball game, I think. The Tennessee game my senior year when we played them at home, winning the big game against Florida there at Mississippi State and then to turn around and beat Auburn the following weekend were all big games for us. Even though I was a redshirt guy, going to an SEC Championship (Game) was one. Just that feeling of getting there was great.

I would have to say going to play in the Cotton Bowl and playing against Ricky Williams and then coming back the following year and winning the Peach Bowl are good ones. Of course seeing my brother in the Snow Bowl running down the field and diving in the snow to help the Mississippi State Bulldogs win that game was a great memory for me.

SR: It seems that there is a pipeline between the Atlanta Falcons and Mississippi State. Is that because of former MSU player and current Atlanta Falcons scout, Bruce Plummer?

JG: I think the Atlanta Falcons really like the running backs that come out of Mississippi State. They are hard knock guys. You know we are not out there showboating. We're just ready to go to work. You got two fullbacks here (Justin and Fred McCrary) and a tailback. We are blessed to have Jerious on the team, because I believe he is going to help us accomplish a lot of things we are trying to accomplish now.

Bruce may have put a word in, but Mississippi State is out of his district at this time. I think the guys just really like the talent there. The guys get out there and play hard and we're all pretty diverse guys. We're versatile. If you ask us to line up at receiver, we will do that. We will block as a fullback or line up as a tailback. We will do what they ask us to do.

SR: How about a behind the scenes memory from your time at MSU that the average fan would not know about?

JG: I would say watching Randy Thomas when we went to the Cotton Bowl. He got up on stage and kind of did this comedian thing with some guy who was at Texas. For a minute there, everybody was in tune with Randy and we all supported him. That made me feel right at home because the coaches were laughing and the players were laughing. On Saturdays he would get up and make speeches and everybody was in tune and knew exactly what he was talking about. It was one of the moments that made me realize I wanted to be one of the greats to come out of Mississippi State. I may not have been the greatest running back there, but I tried my best.

SR: One of my favorite Justin Griffith memories was the 2001 Memphis game when you about knocked out a defensive back from Memphis on a toss sweep. That play seemed to turn the game around. It seemed the players and the crowd really got fired up after that.

JG: (Laughs) I remember exactly what you are talking about. I was in the huddle and we just couldn't get anything going. Every time we would get something going something would happen. Memphis was still in the ballgame and sometimes you have to have a guy step up a make a big hit or a momentum shift. Coach was looking for someone to do it, so I said to myself," I am fixing to go out here and hit this guy. Whoever it is, when we run this sweep I am going to hit this guy."

I came around the end and I saw my guy and I just turned it loose. (Laughs) I hit him with everything in me, man. I mean everything in me. (Laughs) It was a really good hit, at least I felt like it was. It was a really, really good block. That is probably one my best blocks for as long as I have been playing. After that hit our team just kind of shifted into another gear. The defense started playing, the offense started scoring and the crowd got into it. It was fun. That is probably my highlight of 2001.

SR: Now I know that you have taken the newest MSU – Falcon under your wing.

JG: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yes, sir. Even the coaches with the Atlanta Falcons expect me to do that. Jerious was my roommate my last year at Mississippi State, so I know Jerious. I know the type of football player he is. He is hard and he is fast and he can catch. The coaches love him here.

I am just like a mentor to him right now. I am just trying to get him to where he is normal with it and not overreacting if the coach puts him in there. He knows exactly what he is supposed to do. I try to simplify things for him as much as I can.

Sometimes with some coaches, there is a lot of stuff coming at those rookies. I try to be there for him. I want him to ask me questions. I think Jerious, later in his career, if it's the Lord's will for me to stay here, will get to the point where he sees the big picture of football. He will know what everybody is supposed to do. He will know why you run this route, hit the hole at this time or make this cut. Jerious will probably be a great player for the Atlanta Falcons.

SR: I know you are a diehard Bulldog. What are your feelings about the current direction of the football program?

JG: The last time I came to Mississippi State about a month ago, I came to speak at a FCA rally. After checking out the facilities and talking to the head coach, I feel that Mississippi State is headed in the direction it needs to be headed in. I love the way the alumni and the fans are getting behind the team and getting behind the coaches.

I know this is a long process. I look for more wins out of Mississippi State this year. I think pretty soon they will be up in that top class. You will hear about Mississippi State like you hear about the Ohio States, Miamis and Florida States. I think they are on their way to being a program just like that, but I know it is going to take time.

I believe Sylvester Croom is the man for the job. The way that he has taken bad attitudes and people who don't belong on the team and sent them on their way is helping establish discipline again on this football team. People are behind him. I am behind him, players in the NFL, former Mississippi State Bulldogs are behind him. We just love to see what is going on. We love the facilities and the attitudes of the players and the coaches.


Steve Robertson is a staff member of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing therobertsonreport@hotmail.com.

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