Long before he was a Heisman Trophy winner or a top NFL Draft pick, Robert Griffin III was a high school quarterback with a tough college decision to make.
The Copperas Cove, Texas, native initially committed to the University of Houston, where Art Briles was the head coach at the time. But when Briles abruptly left Houston for the same job at Baylor in November of 2007, Griffin, a high school senior at the time, had to reconsider his commitment.
"I texted him, and I said, 'Coach, are these rumors true? Are you going to Baylor University?'" Griffin said, re-telling the story of his recruitment during an interview on the Matt Mosley Show on Tuesday. "He said, 'Ah, don't worry about that. It's just rumors. Just focus on your high school season and we'll talk about it later.' Literally the next day, he was on the TV screen doing 'Sic 'Em, Bears' as the new head coach of the Baylor Bears."
With Briles no longer in the picture at Houston, Griffin reopened his recruiting process. The quarterback explained he was tempted to ask Briles if the coach wanted him to tag along with him and head to Baylor. However, Griffin ultimately decided that he ought to feel wanted by a school, and decided not to ask Briles about following suit.
Shortly after Griffin decided he would no longer be headed to Houston, offers from top programs such as Stanford and Oregon rolled in. Stanford, in particular, started to show considerable interest in him, despite having four-star prospect Andrew Luck already committed.
"It didn't bother me at all," Griffin said on Luck's commitment.
Griffin decided to travel west to California and take a visit to the PAC-12 school. As he was headed out west, the passer explained he got a call from Briles, asking Griffin to follow him to Baylor. But at that point, Griffin had decided he was going to at least see what Stanford was all about.
"I was an early graduate," he said. "I actually graduated in December my senior year of high school and went to college in the spring. Stanford wasn't allowing their athletes to come mid-term at that time, so I was going to go out to Palo Alto and work at a law firm for the whole spring and continue to train out there and compete with Andrew Luck when the football season started."
But once Griffin got to Palo Alto, Ca., he realized Stanford might not be the school for him. That is for one extremely important reason.
"I had a little bit of inclination they were going to switch my position," Griffin said.
Griffin was arguably the most athletic quarterback in his high school graduating class. He had blazing speed, shown by his track accomplishments, where he was named Texas' Gatorade Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
College coaches saw Griffin's athletic ability as a way for him to excel at positions other than quarterback; the quarterback explained that both Texas and Texas A&M offered him scholarships as an "athlete" rather than QB, too.
When Griffin arrived at Stanford, he was greeted by a player that was designated to show him around. Initially, Griffin was a little confused because that player wasn't a quarterback.
"They gave me a wide receiver as my host for my visit, and it just so happens that the wide receiver was Richard Sherman," Griffin said. "Everyone knows now that Sherman was a wide receiver and got switched to [defensive back], and now the rest is history for him and [his] potentially Hall of Fame career. But that was the icing on the cake for me. It let me know like 'Ding, ding, ding. They're probably going to switch your position,' even though they said they would play me at quarterback."
Griffin left Palo Alto unsatisfied. Wanting to continue to play quarterback, Griffin called Briles when he returned home to Texas. The quarterback committed to Baylor, and the rest is history.
On Monday, Griffin was named Baylor football's Offensive Player of the Decade. During his tenure at Baylor, Griffin finished with over 10,000 passing yards, 78 passing touchdowns and just 17 interceptions. He was just as dangerous with his legs, rushing for over 2,000 career yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground during his four years.
During his junior campaign in 2011, Griffin led Baylor to a 10-3 record and an Alamo Bowl victory, The quarterback finished with 37 passing touchdowns and just six interceptions, earning several national and conference honors along the way.
Perhaps the award that meant the most to the Baylor legend was being named the Heisman Trophy winner, coincidentally edging out Luck, who he would have competed with at Stanford.
Griffin decided to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the 2012 NFL Draft, where the Washington Redskins would select him second overall. But the quarterback's career could have gone a completely different direction had he decided to attend a different university.
"I think what's written is written," Griffin said. "Had I moved to wide receiver or [defensive back], I think I would have found my way to the NFL."
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