Expect a lot from Robert Griffin III ... he does
The moment Baylor's Robert Griffin III completed that iconic touchdown pass to beat the Oklahoma Sooners in Waco, you knew his college days were numbered. It's not accurate to call RG3 an overnight sensation because teams in the Big 12 had seen him burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2008.
But it's fair to say he transitioned from NFL curiosity to "can't miss" prospect as quickly as anything we've seen in years. And now that Griffin officially declared for the draft Wednesday, he's being projected in some circles as the No. 2 overall pick. It's heady stuff for a kid out of Copperas Cove, Texas, who was recruited by Texas, Texas A&M and LSU as an "athlete" instead of quarterback. The Longhorns were dealt another painful reminder in early December when they sent Case McCoy out to try and keep pace with Griffin.
That decisive win for the Bears against a highly regarded defense helped catapult Griffin to a victory in the Heisman race. That leaving school with one year of eligibility remaining was actually a difficult decision for Griffin speaks to how much loyalty he felt toward Baylor head coach Art Briles and his teammates. He kept his emotions in check while breaking the news to his teammates Wednesday morning, but admitted to "breaking down" when they started hugging him afterwards.
"It's tough to tell them," Griffin told us on 103.3 FM-KESN. "That was the biggest reason I couldn't come to a decision. You never want to see anyone get hurt, and at the end of the day, I was the one who was hurt because I put so much into them."
Griffin can gain comfort in the fact that he took what had been the worst football program in the Big 12 for years and helped lead it back to prominence not seen since Mike Singletary walked the campus in 1980. It's unlikely Baylor will have another 10-win season in 2012, but it's fair to expect the Bears to be in the bowl hunt on an annual basis. That seemed like a pipe dream before Griffin arrived on campus.
Now, he will pour everything into preparing for April's draft. Scouts will break down his film from every angle and obsess with how his success in Baylor's spread offense will translate to Sundays. It's obviously a great thing for Griffin that another extremely athletic quarterback, Cam Newton, is coming off a strong rookie campaign. Griffin doesn't have Newton's size, but he's a much more accurate passer.
Here's what one highly regarded talent evaluator for an AFC team had to say about Griffin on Friday:
"He's a talent," said the longtime scout. "Raw but a lot of natural physical ability. He has a real high ceiling, but there are some unknowns because of the scheme and limited playbook. He's coming out of a spread attack, so there will be a ton of discovery on the guy from January to April."
Griffin won a lot of the awards that Stanford's Andrew Luck was expected to pick up, but the Colts have made it clear that Luck's their man. As you might expect, Griffin is taking all that in stride.
"Andrew's a great guy," he said. "He's worked extremely hard to put himself in this position. There are no hard feelings between us. We're competitors, so we both want to finish first. It just so happens that on a few awards, I won, and on few others, he did."
Dating back to junior high, Griffin's been successful on every level. And no one's expecting that to change now.