Beyond The Trophies: Robert Griffin III
By Don Leypoldt, MFC College Media Relations Director
We knew Robert Griffin III could play football. The "Baylor Blur" from Copperas Cove, TX was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2010. RGIII completed 67% of his pass attempts for over 3,500 yards while rushing for another 635. He ran or passed for 30 touchdowns. It's no surprise that he is on the 2011 Maxwell Award watch list.
Griffin III- Baylor's massive right tackle is also ironically named Robert Griffin- led the 2010 Bears to a seven-win regular season and bowl berth, becoming both a Maxwell Award semi-finalist and a Davey O'Brien Award semi-finalist for the nation's top quarterback.
But here is what you might not know about Griffin. He graduated 7th in a high school class of 500. Although just a football junior this Fall, Griffin has already earned his degree in Political Science and is currently working on his Masters. He is a six-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll.
While being an elite quarterback and an elite student would leave little time for anything else, Griffin has received national recognition for his community service: he has volunteered with Friends For Life, a Waco-based daycare center for mentally challenged adults and teens. Griffin has also volunteered for One Book One Waco, a community-wide program that promotes education. Griffin is a frequent speaker in schools.
That is what Beyond the Trophies is about. There are no shortage of media outlets to broadcast the bad news in college football. The Maxwell Football Club's mission is to promote the game of football. Part of that promotion is exposing the rich treasure trove of true student-athletes who do the right thing...in anonymity.
Here is some of the conversation that the MFC recently had with Baylor junior quarterback Robert Griffin III:
MFC: You grew up in a military family. Did you move a lot as a kid? And how did that background influence your values and your work ethic?
RGIII: I was born in Japan. I moved from Japan to Colorado, Colorado to New Orleans and from New Orleans to Copperas Cove, TX, where I spent most of my life. (Note: Copperas Cove is about halfway between Waco and Austin) I've moved around a little bit but at a younger age, it doesn't affect you as much since you don't really form strong bonds with younger kids as you would say, if I were a teenager. In that sense, I did experience civilian life - by being able to stay in one place since I was seven.
As far as the military values affecting my life, and the life of my two sisters, they definitely did. My Dad and Mom instilled discipline through us. If you say you are going to do something, you make sure you do it. You're responsible. As well as: Don't be afraid to be different. Don't be afraid to lead people in the right direction rather than just being a follower. It's shaped the kind of person that I am today and they have helped me my whole life.
MFC: Coming out of high school, you were the Texas Gatorade State Track Athlete of the Year. Was it a tough decision choosing football over track?
RGIII: Sometimes in life, there are things that you want to do but God has another plan for you. Track and basketball were definitely something I wanted to do through out high school and into college. But whenever you go to two straight state championship games, you're doing pretty well on the football field leading your team and being a team player. Sometimes you have to go with that. Those two state championship runs let me know that maybe I should give football a shot.
MFC: Academically, you've already gotten your degree and are working on your Masters. How do you balance excelling in your classes with the demands of BCS football?
RGIII: Managing football and academics is definitely a hard thing. Graduating in three years and attempting to get your undergrad and Masters in in the amount of time that regular students would get just their undergrad...it's definitely tough.
No matter what problem it is, you have to have a plan. Although athletics is something great and you can do a lot of great things if you make it, you have to have a plan after football. Even a plan before football because you never know if football is going to work out for you or if you get injured, like I did a few years ago, and I had that taken away from me. The competitiveness is what drove me through class. I want to be the guy with the best grades in the class so I take that from the field, apply it to the classroom and that's how I was able to push myself through.
MFC: That is what makes your community involvement so impressive- there is so little downtime in Division I football. Could you talk about your community involvement? What spurs you to do the things you do? How do you have time for it? Is there a specific cause that is near and dear to your heart?
RGIII: The thing that is probably the most dear to my heart here in Waco is going to a day care for people who are a little behind or who are mentally disadvantaged. It's for people whose families can't take care of them during the day. It's called Friends For Life. I volunteered at that place for a whole summer and got to know the kids really well. It's just amazing how you can impact the lives of anybody just by being there. They're happy to see you. Not that many people want to see or be around that kind of thing because it makes them uncomfortable but sometimes you have to make yourself feel a little bit uncomfortable because it makes you appreciate what you do have.
MFC: I need to throw in one token football question. You're the epitome of the "dual-threat" quarterback. It is a cliché, but in your case it fits. What makes you and this offense so effective?
RGIII: It starts with the offensive line. If you have a great offensive line who can protect you or run block for you it goes from there. They don't get a lot of credit but they deserve all of the credit. I know quarterbacks get all of the fame and all of the blame. The offensive linemen deserve all of the fame instead of the quarterback. They're the ones fighting in the trenches for you.
As far as me being a dual-threat in Coach Briles' offense, he has had quarterbacks who weren't "dual threat" quarterbacks excel in his offense. In my opinion every quarterback is a dual-threat quarterback. Even Peyton Manning runs for as couple of yards here and there. The whole cliché about a dual-threat quarterback is overblown but you deal with it. To me, it helps me play with a chip on my shoulder because certain teams and certain coaches didn't think I could throw. I certainly proved that I could last year and I hope to prove it time and time again over the next couple of years.
MFC: Is there a point where you realized that being a high profile athlete gave you a platform?
RGIII: When I first got in college, I used to post a lot of sayings on Facebook- some wisdom- trying to help people so that if people saw it, maybe it might brighten their day or something like that. Whenever I'd get hundreds of comments on things like that, or people would see me in public and get excited to see me, it let me know that everybody is watching. You can use that in a negative way or a positive way. It let me know that I should get God's name out there and help any cause that if it needs to be pushed forward, I can do that, because God has given me the opportunity to speak my mind and have my voice heard because I'm the quarterback at Baylor University.
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