TUCSON, Ariz. — The most-sought player at Arizona’s annual football media day on Sunday wasn’t quarterback Matt Scott, running back Ka’Deem Carey or wide receiver Dan Buckner.
It was a player who has yet to take a snap before the fans at Arizona Stadium and has no guarantee of any meaningful snaps this season.
Say hello to freshman wideout Trey Griffey, son of future baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.
Media day was the first time coach Rich Rodriguez allowed access to Arizona’s newcomers, and Griffey was a popular target.
He arrived in early June to get acclimated and get into summer school in preparation for the season. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver from Orlando, Fla., said he is “feeling good and feeling welcome” in Tucson.
How much he plays, if he plays, as a true freshman will depend not only on his physical skills, but how hard he works and the performance of the Wildcats’ well-stocked group of experienced receivers.
The work part doesn’t figure to be a problem. Rodriguez said Trey’s work ethic mimics his father’s. It’s not about talent alone.
“Trey has worked hard. He has a good future. He’s still learning,’’ Rodriguez said. “I’ve liked what I see in practice. But his work ethic . . . a guy like his dad, people probably don’t realize how hard Ken Griffey worked to get to where he was. That work ethic is instilled in all his kids.’’
Griffey enjoyed a certain anonymity on campus for the past couple of months while getting to know his teammates and coaches before the start of classes Monday.
“Everybody can’t really come in and talk about what I did in high school or who you are,’’ he said. “Everybody is here, and we all have the same goal.’’
He spoke of winning a national championship and a Rose Bowl, two things that have eluded the University of Arizona like a snowflake in August.
“The practices have been great,’’ Griffey said. “We are doing what we have to do to get ready for Toledo (on Sept. 1).’’
As for where and how he fits into those plans . . .
“I fit in wherever,’’ he said, ” . . . wherever the team needs me.’’
Griffey first became interested in Arizona while being recruited by former coach Mike Stoops, and it continued when Rodriguez came aboard in November.
“My thoughts never changed,” he said.
Although he comes to campus with a high degree of name recognition, he also brings a quiet, humble demeanor. Like basketball player Luke Walton, who played at Arizona a decade earlier for Lute Olson, he seems intent on not trying to cast himself as the son of a famous athlete.
“I think you would expect it,’’ Rodriguez said, of Griffey’s humble presence. “A guy like his dad learned from his dad in how to conduct yourself. Trey is probably prepared for this type environment.
“I’m sure Trey would tell you that his last name may get somebody to look at him, but people aren’t just going to notice you because of your name. You have to do it on your own.’’
Griffey decided at an early age he would choose one love, football, over another, baseball. It was a tough choice, but by age 11 it was all but determined, although he continued to play baseball until he was 15.
“My parents didn’t force to make a decision,’’ he said.
And the advice from his father?
“Just have fun,’’ he said. “That was the biggest thing. If you’ve not having fun, then you won’t enjoy.’’
Buckner, the leader of the receiving corps, said Griffey has done exactly that, enjoying being part of the team and working hard.
“Trey works,’’ Buckner said. “He doesn’t talk about his dad. Trey is Trey. He’s not his dad. He’s his own person. He lives his own life. He came here to play football, make his own legacy. He’s been working since he’s been here.”