Every season, Horned Frogs who declare or graduate try their best to get to playing on Sundays. Undoubtedly, names like Josh Doctson and Trevone Boykin will be immediately recognizable during the NFL Combine and all other related proceedings, as well as a few other Frogs who will be trying their luck in getting into a professional league.
That’s also the same dream of former TCU defensive back Kolby Griffin, who is hoping to make a professional roster as well.
But for this former Frog, he has to do everything differently.
After a quick stint at Kentucky State University, Griffin is self-funding his way to the pros, which has so far included a fundraising campaign, a move back to his parents’ home and an appearance in an All-Star game along the way.
This is his story.
A Post-TCU Journey
After getting his sociology degree from TCU in May, Griffin was left with one year of eligibility to play college football. However, given the playing time he had seen already (just 17 games in four years for the Horned Frogs) and the upcoming depth chart for 2015, Griffin said he felt like he had a tough choice: If he wanted some playing time on scholarship, he'd have to leave TCU.
With the blessing of Coach Patterson, he chose to explore his options, eventually ending up at Division II’s KSU to play for the Thoroughbreds.
“I went to the first school that showed interest in me,” Griffin said about his selection. “I just got blessed [with KSU].”
That blessing came in the form of the opportunity to play, which Griffin certainly got to do. It didn’t come easy, as Griffin began working full-time in a restaurant to make ends meet while he was concurrently playing football and doing graduate studies at Kentucky State.
After a showcase game against Central State, which included Griffin scoring a touchdown on a blocked punt recovery, Griffin got news that would help bolster his NFL dreams: he was going to play in the 2016 edition of the Dream Bowl in Virginia.
“If I was told a year ago that I’d be in an all-star game, I’d be laughing,” Griffin said. “Now, I’ve talked with scouts and teams and it’s absolutely crazy.”
The Dream Bowl was played Monday, and although a couple of tackles would be all that Griffin’s stat line showed after a frigid game played in sub-freezing weather, that was all the defensive back needed to get some attention.
By the end of the festivities surrounding the game, Griffin had interviewed with the New York Jets and spoke for 30 minutes with the San Diego Chargers, as well as a smattering of some other professional scouts.
“Obviously, they can’t promise anything right now, but they might give me a shot,” Griffin said.
That shot is simply all that Griffin wants, and according to his parents, that’s something that Griffin will relentlessly fight for. After all, he's wanted it for just as long as he can remember.
Daddy, I’m Gonna Play Big-Time Football
Kolby has two older brothers, both of which played football. Griffin’s mom, Janice, said that’s where Kolby’s love of the game began.
As his older brothers would play football in youth leagues, Kolby would get involved as young as four years old, serving as a “human mascot” and tee kid, his mom said.
“Other kids had their uniforms, and he had a Halloween costume,” Janice said. “And he thought he blended right in.”
That Halloween costume - a Dallas Cowboys uniform complete with replica helmet and pads - was a staple in young Kolby’s life, according to Kolby’s father, Cleveland. Whenever the Cowboys would play on TV, Kolby would run out to the family living room to watch the game all dressed up in the ensemble, ready to cheer on America’s Team.
“Ever since he was a little kid, that’s what he’d always do,” Cleveland said. “He’d always tell me ‘Daddy, I’m gonna play big-time football.’ And I’d tell him that if made his junior school team, then his high school team, then a D-I team, it just might happen.”
Cleveland and Janice have supported their son from pee wee football days to his current ventures in training for the NFL. They’ve done plenty with Kolby’s current venture, ranging from having Kolby move back home to Houston to help defer costs to assisting him with his specialty diet.
“There’s nothing worse in life than a deferred dream, so we’re all in for the ride,” Cleveland said.
That dream isn’t getting deferred by Kolby or his family in the slightest, even if it means there’s a ton of challenges to overcome.
Doing it solo
After finishing up his collegiate career at Kentucky State, Kolby went back home to his parents in Houston to begin working with Allen Langford and Athlete Body Mechanics. Since working with Langford, Kolby has shaved his unofficial 40-time down to under 4.5 seconds, per Langford. With about seven weeks until Kolby's combine, Langford said he firmly believes that Kolby could record a 40-yard dash in the 4.4 range and earn a spot with personal workouts with teams.
Langford said that Kolby has "a realistic chance" of making it into a NFL rookie camp with the film, physical capabilities and work ethic that the defensive back brings to the table. Under Langford's tutelage, Kolby has been training five to six times a week, with four to six hours of daily workout prepping every day.
That training certainly doesn’t come cheap though, nor does the food that Kolby needs for his diet - a fact both his parents will mention with a good amount of laughter.
“I don’t have an agent, so everything is out of my pocket right now,” Kolby said. “The money I saved from working kinda ran out quick.”
In addition to the training and diet regiment, Kolby is on the hook for everything from bowl game fees, hotel rooms and travel for the Dream Bowl and his regional NFL combine in New Orleans on March 12. He also spends a pretty penny on gas expenses, driving through Houston cross-town traffic to get to his training facility.
To help defray costs, Kolby set up a GoFundMe page, where he’s already raised nearly $3,000 to help secure his dream, largely from TCU fans and alumni.
“Every dollar is appreciated, and I can’t thank TCU’s fans enough. My love for TCU doesn’t end,” Kolby said.
We still love the Frogs
And speaking of loving the Frogs, the Griffin family continues to be a huge fan of TCU, particularly the experiences and education the university gave Kolby.
“We’re still a Frog family,” Janice said. “The quality of education at TCU is bar none. That’s not even from a football aspect, it’s a quality institution from administrators to professors to alumni. We’ll always be Frog fans.”
“TCU gave Kolby a hell of an education, and that’s what it’s all about,” Cleveland added.
Kolby himself gave a ton of praise to TCU as well, thanking Patterson for the opportunity to play football and get a college education.
“Football ends at some point, but TCU got me that education,” Kolby said. “It’s a blessing to have that for four years.”
What Kolby will do after football isn’t decided yet, by any stretch of the imagination. Whether it’s law school to be a sports agent, or as a high school football coach, or something else, Kolby knows that TCU is what helped him get to where he is today.
And most of all, he can’t believe how blessed he is with the chance he has at getting into the pros.
“It’s a child’s dream, man. What an opportunity,” Kolby said. “It’s a true blessing and it totally blows my mind.”