Griffin meets Tennessee coaches

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The continued transition to a 3-4 defensive scheme for Tennessee means an even greater need to have supremely large, wide bodies to put their hands on the ground.

That metamorphosis is carrying over from the practice field with the immediate roster to the recruiting board for the Volunteers.

A Peach State lineman that has Tennessee licking their chops for his services is Kelsey Griffin, who is a four-star prospect and's No. 13 defensive tackle in the country.

The prospect of getting him to ink with the Big Orange come February took a step forward as Griffin took an unofficial trip to Knoxville last weekend to catch Tennessee's annual spring game.

"It was pretty exciting," Griffin told InsideTennessee. "The stadium is really big. I enjoyed myself."

He made the rounds last fall in an educational tour, seeing games at Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi State. He shared his thoughts on Neyland Stadium in comparison: "I mean it was pretty big. The fans are always going to be there, but the stadium itself was pretty amazing."

The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder was shown plenty of attention by the Tennessee staff while in Knoxville, meeting with nearly every coach, including the entire staff on the defensive side. He called head coach Derek Dooley a "nice guy, very nice guy."

Assistant coach Jay Graham is Griffin's primary recruiter for Tennessee.
(Danny Parker/

The Vol staff member sending messages and making phone calls to and about Griffin is running backs coach Jay Graham. "It's like with any other coach — formal," Griffin said of their relationship. "I try not to get too sucked up into what the coaches do."

The Volunteers are recruiting the Gwinnett Daily Post's All-Region 7-AAAAA selection as a nose guard.

Tennessee isn't the only Southeastern Conference school with an offer on the table to Griffin, who lines up in the trenches for Mill Creek (Ga.) High School coach Shannon Jarvis. Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina have also pulled the trigger.

Along with his recent visit to Rocky Top, the four-star has made his way to Athens, Ga., and Columbia, S.C., this spring.

Griffin, who bench presses 375 pounds and squats 475, admitted that his recruitment has been a pleasure. He already had an idea as to how the recruiting game works as former teammate and friend Tyler Cierski went through the process before signing with Maryland.

"I'm enjoying it. That's just what all comes with it. I'm enjoying my recruiting process," Griffin said.

He was adamant about not having any favorites, although he saw three games at Georgia in 2011, along with the trip this spring.

"They're close," he said of the Bulldogs. "If I want to go check out anything or see a game, they're just right down the street."

So, does that mean that proximity is a factor?

"No, not really. I'm not afraid to go away from home. It's not that big of a deal," said Griffin, who lives in Hoschton, Ga., about 51 miles northeast of Atlanta.

While some prospects gear their recruitment around playing time or the academic side of things, this one says his decision will come down to sheer "feel" for a school.

"I'm not really too interested in coaches because coaches leave in the blink of an eye," Griffin said. "Definitely how I feel, how I fit in and my role on the team. I want my decision to feel good because I don't want to regret going to any school.

"Whenever it comes to me. It'll come to me when I see it. I don't have a specific timeline."

Griffin is currently maintaining a 2.7 grade point average, and he is taking the standardized tests in two weeks. He is undecided on a potential major, and he will not be an early enrollee.

Kelsey Griffin

Danny Parker is currently the Associate Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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