Free safety Matt Griebel was one of the few bright spots during an otherwise disappointing 2005 season for the 0-12 New Mexico State Aggies.
Griebel accumulated 149 tackles during his senior season, breaking the Aggies' single season record for tackles by a defensive back. He had 10 or more tackles in 7 contests during the 2005 season.
In many ways, Griebel's game parallels that of Colts' safety Matt Giordano who was a fourth-round selection in the 2005 draft. Both are listed around 5'11, 190-pounds, both are hard hitters, both excel on special teams and both demonstrated their toughness by playing with casts during their senior years in college.
In fact, Griebel was forced to play his entire senior season with a hard plastic cast on his arm. But he takes pride in his ability to recover quickly from injury and showed both mental and physical toughness as he refused to let the injury hinder his play.
"I've had some pretty major ones [injuries], most recently a broken arm. I snapped my arm in half and I've been able to go through major surgeries and was able to come back and not miss any workouts throughout the summer. I think when you come back from an injury like that so quickly it gives you a reputation that this is a tough guy," he said.
During his five-year stint at New Mexico State, Griebel played for five different position coaches, all with contrasting defensive philosophies. He believes that experience has made him a better, more diverse football player.
"We did a lot of zone blitzing when I first played. One year we played a lot of man coverage and then the following year we kind of mixed it up and played some Cover 8 and some Cover 4, which I'd never really played before. We typically played Cover 2, Cover 3 and then a lot of the zone blitz stuff. I got a good experience from different man coverages, different zone coverages and different zone blitz packages throughout my career," Griebel said.
While many players dread participating on special teams, Griebel thrives on it. In fact, he played so determined and all-out on the kickoff coverage team his coaches pulled him off the squad as a sophomore.
"I just love to be able to do that coverage. They took me off the kickoff team because they thought I was a little too crazy and was going to hurt myself. From then on I just did the punt coverage and I don't know how many, but a large percentage of my tackles came from special teams. It's just something I really love to do and I pride myself in being one of the best at it," he said.
Aside from his athletic abilities, Griebel is also a standout student. He was named to the 2005 all-academic WAC team and earned a 4.0 GPA during the Spring 2005 semester. As a mechanical engineering major, Griebel feels his academic success can be translated onto the football field.
"Some of the same principles apply, you have to be focused, you have to have a goal and you have to be committed to accomplishing that goal," he said.
Coltpower Insiders can read an exclusive Q&A article with Matt at ColtPower.com in which he talks more about his playing style, his skills and his interaction with the Colts.
Hot Prospect: Safety Matt Griebel
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