Hot Wheels

Just when it appeared Tennessee might be out of the running for a quarterback in the Class of 2008, the Vols suddenly find themselves in a high-speed chase for a quicksilver signal caller from Copperas Cove, Texas.

It remains to be seen if Robert Griffin III can throw with the big boys, but there is no doubt he can outrun them. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound QB turns the 40 in a electrifying sub 4.4 and he holds the state record in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. That twin feat earned him the Gatorade Texas Boys Track and Field Athlete of the year after clocking 13.55 in the 110 and a 35.33 in the 300. Griffin has a personal best of 13.30 in the 110 and 46.9 in the 400. He has a 34-inch vertical leap and outstanding transitional skills.

He proved to be an efficient passer last fall, connecting on 142-of-236 passes (58 percent) for 1,994 yards and 21 TDs with only 7 INTs. He also ran for 850 yards and eight more touchdowns. Most importantly, he led Copperas Cove High School to the Class 4A Division I state title tilt.

That combination of speed, athleticism and production at a high level of Texas high school football would grab any team's attention. So it's not surprising he has collected offers from Illinois, Purdue, TCU, UTEP, Utah, Kansas, Houston, Colorado, Colorado State, Tulsa, Nebraska, Washington State, Tennessee, Baylor and Stanford.

The Vols got into the running on Griffin late, but made his list of finalists along with Baylor, Houston, Stanford and Tulsa.

"They're right there in the SEC and I'd say with 70 percent of the SEC teams you can't go wrong," Griffin told Scout.com's Sonny Shipp. "I think they are in good position (returning QBs) there too with what we've seen."

The opportunity to break into the quarterback competition quickly is a high on Griffin's list of criteria for choosing a college. And while he's an excellent athlete, he doesn't want to be recruited as one.

"Any school that offers as an athlete, we're not even listening to them," his father said. "There is no way. A lot of people have seen him in action and the schools we are looking at are very pleased with what they saw of him as a quarterback."

Griffin is trying to avoid situations that would leave him on the bench for two or three years. He graduates in December and plans to announce his decision before the start of school. An announcement could come as early as next week.

He is also trying to find an offense that will allow him to showcase his skills and ability to read defenses.

"I don't have a particular offensive scheme I'm looking for but when they talk to me about it, I want to see if that scheme fits my abilities," he told Barry Bolton of Cougar Fan.com. "(I want) a scheme that allows me to throw the ball deep and really control the offense. Not one that is too structured, but one that will allow me to go out there, make my reads and determine what plays we need to run."

Mobility at quarterback adds a dimension that forces defenses to be more defensive. It takes away a lot of the middle pressure and negates highly aggressive schemes designed to flush the quarterback out of the pocket. Tennessee won it's national championship and last SEC title behind the mobile Tee Martin. However the key was his ability to throw deep along with accuracy in the short to intermediate zones.

Robert Griffin appears to possess some of that same talent. Plus, he's a lot faster.


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