OXFORD – Ryan Griffin had a Division I football offer in his back pocket and had to fish or cut bait.
He’s glad he fished.
Griffin set freshman records at Tulane last season, starting the last six games. As a starter, he passed for 1,143 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Three times he surpassed the 200-year mark, and he had two three-touchdown games.
Tulane, 3-9 in 2009, went 1-5 in Griffin’s starts. The win was a 45-38 overtime decision against Texas-El Paso in which Griffin, a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder from Westlake Village, Calif., passed for 278 yards, three touchdowns and ran for another.
In his other starts, some margins were close and some were not.
Griffin, rated the No. 21 quarterback in the nation by ESPN as a senior, had a West Coast connection with the Green Wave. Tulane coach Bob Toledo, who won two Pac-10 titles in a seven-year stint at UCLA, is from Griffin’s hometown.
But when Griffin made a recruiting visit to New Orleans, the coach played hardball.
Said Griffin: “They put me in a corner and said if I did not commit I would lose my offer. I ended up committing kind of early.”
In the game of recruiting, verbal commitments are non-binding. Signed scholarship papers are binding, but Griffin, who had drawn interest from UCLA and Tulane, did not have another offer at that time.
“It was tough, but once I gave my word, I couldn’t take it back,” Griffin said. “Coach Toledo said that once you say you’re going to marry someone you have to marry them. I told him I’d only known him three days, and that was an awfully quick marriage.”
But it’s been a good one in Griffin’s estimation.
“I’m really glad I came here,” he said.
So is Toledo. He sees growth in his California Kid, but growth rarely comes without pain.
Pain for Griffin, in his seventh college start, was a sack and fumble in the season opener. Southeastern Louisiana sacked Griffin four times on the night, but this one was clearly on his shoulders.
“We had a quick out to the left. He should have just turned and thrown it, picked up our weapons and moved on,” Toledo said.
Instead, Griffin tried a different read first, and the play sped up on him.
Still, Toledo sees a different quarterback than the one he put into the fire last year.
“He’s got a greater grasp of what we’re doing,” the coach said. “As soon as I brought him off the field, I grabbed him and said, ‘OK, what happened? What did you see?’ He told me exactly what happened and what he should have done.”
Three other sacks allowed were not attributed to Griffin. He was 17-for-26 for 129 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
The Green Wave was able to lean on its rushing game that outgained SLU 123-64 to control the clock and grind out a 27-21 win.
“I need to limit my mistakes,” Griffin said. “I want to do a good job of managing the game, being accurate, getting our offense in the correct plays and getting the ball in the hands of our playmakers.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or email@example.com.
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal