September 5, 2012

Griffin not afraid to embrace family legacy

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Adam Griffin remembers the first time that he truly understood the magnitude of who his father is.

"My sophomore year in high school playing football, that's probably the first time it ever hit me," Griffin, the son of former OSU running back Archie Griffin said. "We were playing Lima Shawnee and I guess Jamar Butler was at the game and it was lightening or whatever and he just came up to me like, 'Oh, you're Archie Griffin's son. I heard you were playing us today.'"

After spending four years in Columbus as a member of the Buckeyes' basketball team, it's not surprising that Butler knew who Griffin's dad is. Archie is etched into OSU- and college football- lore as the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy. While his accomplishments leave him at the forefront of every Ohio State fan's mind, to Adam, Archie was just "dad."

"It's kind of the way I've always been," Adam said. "I even thought that back in little league, I remember that I never thought about it too much."

Growing up in the shadow of The Horseshoe, it was always Adam's dreams to follow in his father's footsteps and play at Ohio State. But after his high school career at Columbus DeSales came to an end, Adam remained without a scholarship offer from former OSU coach Jim Tressel.

That changed, however, in February of 2010, after Adam had already expressed interest in walking on to the Buckeyes team. Tressel changed his mind and offered Archie's kid a scholarship, which Adam immediately accepted.

Once he offered me a scholarship, then that just validated that I was good enough to play here," Adam said. "When I got here, I just wanted to go out there and prove that."

Adam insists that he's more interested in making a name for himself rather than continuing the great Griffin legacy that exists in Columbus. But according to his teammates, the 5-foot-8, 180-pound cornerback isn't shy about letting people know what he comes from.

"He loves his last name," OSU safety Christian Bryant. "He talks about it almost every day. He knows what his dad did."

Adam's fondness of his heritage has even earned him his own nickname in the Ohio State locker room.

"We call him 'Young Arch,'" Bryant revealed. "He came in or freshman year, we didn't really know what to expect. We just knew his dad was Archie Griffin."

The impact that Adam made on the OSU program in his first two seasons, however, was far from the impact that Archie made 40 years ago. After redshirting as a freshman in 2010, the younger Griffin only served as a special teams reserve throughout the Buckeyes' 2011 season.

Unsurprisingly, Adam was not happy to just be wearing his scarlet and gray uniform on the sideline on Saturdays.

"I didn't come here to just sit around and do nothing," Adam said. "It was extremely frustrating. I just remember going home at night just mad at the world, almost like every day after practice."

But when Urban Meyer- who wore No. 45 growing up to honor Archie- came to Columbus to take over the Ohio State program, he gave every player a clean slate, and few players have taken advantage of that more than Adam has.

"It was definitely a reset button for me because 'cause I mean, new coaches, a new set of eyes watching you play and they don't have any past thoughts about you," Adam said. "I just came in and tried to make a name."

And after developing a strong relationship with OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, Adam did just that. The third-year sophomore entered the 2012 season as the Buckeyes' No. 4 cornerback, a spot that he beat out several highly-touted incoming freshmen for.

Adam said that becoming a starter at cornerback is undoubtedly one of his goals, but for now he'll have to settle on making an impact on special teams. Appearing on every OSU special teams unit except the punt team in Saturday's season-opening 56-10 win over Miami (OH), Adam recorded two tackles- including one inside of the 20-yard line on a kickoff- in an effort that earned him the inaugural special teams player of the week award of the Meyer era.

"It means a lot. Obviously if you're any player of the week, that means you played a pretty good game," Adam said. "I thought I played pretty well, obviously I can always improve each and every week and this week I hope I'll play a little better."

After going from being a player who was only offered a scholarship at the last minute by his hometown school to a player of the week award winner, the strides that Adam has been making should have him on the field with the Buckeyes' defense in the near future. And that's just fine with 'Young Arch.'

"If I keep on playing hard, it'll just take care of itself," Adam said.


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