ICEF rugby star Cameron Griffin taking talents to UCLA football program
View Park High's Cameron Griffin has excelled in academics, arts and athletics, and next season he'll head to UCLA to play outside linebacker for Jim Mora.
View Park High's Cameron Griffin has excelled in academics, arts and athletics, and next season he'll play outside linebacker for Jim Mora and the Bruins.
By Rahshaun Haylock
LOS ANGELES -- Around the View Park High School campus, Cameron Griffin is what they call a "triple threat."
"Our philosophy surrounds the 'Three A's' -- academics, arts and athletics," CEO of ICEF Parker Hudnut said. "Cameron really embodies all of that."
It's a Friday afternoon and just over 600 students who make up the student body have flooded into the school's quad in South Los Angeles for a send-off rally for the boys and girls rugby teams that are preparing for a trip to the United Kingdom and France.
The team is sent off in style.
School dignitaries grabbed the mic to express their well wishes.
Songs were sung over the sounds of a keyboard and a bass guitar.
On the bass was Griffin.
That's just one of the talents he possesses. Griffin plays both the guitar and the bass.
A song that was sung during the send off was composed by Griffin, himself.
Music is one of his outlets. He's self-taught and one of 15 cousins who learned to play an instrument or sang in church. His grandfather, Isom McCray, introduced him to playing the guitar.
Music composed by Griffin is featured on the award winning "Red, White, Black & Blue" documentary series that chronicles inner city athletes of ICEF schools on their international travels through the sport of rugby.
Music helps him in other facets of his life, including on the football field.
"Music helps me a lot," Griffin said. "Kind of like using my ear, like how I can listen to music and then play it, I'll watch somebody else do (something on the field) and I can almost mimic it."
Griffin will be heading to UCLA next fall to play outside linebacker for Jim Mora.
Even though he's excelled on the football field, before he ever played a game on the gridiron he was becoming a star on the rugby pitch.
The send off is special to Griffin too. Not just because he composed a song that was heard during the rally, but because the rally was the final send-off for the final international trip of his prep rugby career. It's a career that's taken him to New Zealand, Tahiti, Hong Kong, China, the UK and France.
Rugby star Nia Toliver in a Rio state of mind READ MORE
It nearly didn't happen.
Griffin, with his sights set on playing football at UCLA, considered not playing rugby during his senior year in order to try to avoid injury and focus purely on the sport he earned a scholarship to play.
It was Mora who made sure he didn't quit.
"He told me to give him my rugby coach's number," Griffin said of Mora.
The UCLA head coach picked up the phone and called ICEF rugby director Stuart Krohn.
"I spoke to him for a long time on the phone and he's just so encouraging of Cameron to play rugby and to come on this trip and fulfill his passion and rugby ambitions in high school," Krohn said. "He's just a really supportive coach."
It is Krohn's belief that if Griffin ever decided to return to rugby after his UCLA football playing days are over he'd set the rugby world on fire.
"He's another phenom," Krohn said. "His size and speed is, sort of, an NFL combination -- definitely a Division I athlete. What makes Cameron exceptional is he's got huge athleticism, like he can run the ball. He's a great runner. He anticipates the game really well."
In Westwood his goals are to pursue a masters degree in engineering. That takes care of the academics.