By Tyler Alley
He brought Baylor University a Heisman Trophy, 10 wins this season and a whole lot of national attention. Now, junior quarterback Robert Griffin III gets to move forward in his own career.
“I will always be a Baylor Bear no matter what. I’ve seen my teammates grow as men and as football players as my time,” Griffin said. “I want to thank everybody from the teachers and the students, to the equipment managers and the trainers for allowing me to have a great experience here at Baylor. And I pray I have the blessing of my teammates and my coaches as I move on to the NFL.”
Griffin said he was thankful to the fans that have supported him from his first day, and he hopes they continue to support Baylor with him exiting.
“I’d like to tip my hat to all of Baylor nation,” Griffin said. “From the day that I received a standing ovation when I stepped on the field at Floyd Casey for the first time to watching the balloons and the confetti fall at the Alamo Bowl, my experience at Baylor has been a special one.”
Speculation among fans and sports analysts has been that Griffin would enter the 2012 NFL Draft, and multiple reports over the past few weeks have said that is what he would do. Griffin, however, said that the decision was only finalized a few days ago.
“I talked to [head coach Art Briles] on Monday, and couldn’t come up with a decision,” Griffin said. “I talked to him again yesterday and after sitting down with my parents and my fiancée and just really thinking about it, at the end of the day it was my decision.”
Griffin admitted that he could not contain his emotions when he told his teammates about his choice to forgo his senior season. He said he broke down in tears, but he said his teammates, along with his coach, have given him their full support.
“I told Robert, ‘Don’t go chase that dream, go catch it’” Briles said. “It’s a day of celebration in my mind because of all that he’s meant and stood for for Baylor University, our football program and athletics in general. It’s a very special time. He’s done a lot: 10 wins for the second time in 110 year history, Heisman Trophy winner, every award that’s imaginable in college football. He’s ready, and its’ time. He has all the blessings of our football team and our coaching staff. I have a new favorite pro football team starting in the spring.”
Briles also said this team is not worried about the quarterback position for next season with Griffin.
“Right now, Nick [Florence] would have to be the guy, and then we’ll see with Bryce [Petty],” Briles said. “We’ve stayed pretty quarterback-light the last couple years for a couple reasons, so we’ve got to catch up in the recruiting world a little bit. We’ll take care of business, and like Robert mentioned, we’ve got two guys on campus that are good football players who will fight tooth and nail to get the job done.”
As for Griffin, many mock NFL drafts have him as a top-10 pick in the first round of the upcoming draft. ESPN list him as the No. 6 overall prospect, and CBSSports has him currently projected to be taken by the Cleveland Browns with the fourth overall pick.
“Whoever’s paying the bills, that’s who I want to play for,” Griffin said.
Unlike many college athletes who leave school early to enter the professional leagues, education is not an issue for Griffin, as he has already completed his undergraduate. He is very near completing his graduate degree, and said he should be able to still.
“I’ll finish my masters,” Griffin said. “I’m in my thesis program and thank God I don’t have any classes, but I do have a fairly large paper to write. It’ll be okay. I’ll be able to finish that either in the spring or in the summer.”
Griffin finished this season with 4,293 passing yards and 37 touchdowns, making him the first Baylor quarterback to ever pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. He also had 699 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
He leaves Baylor as the school’s record-holder in single-game, single-season, and career passing yards, and he has the most wins ever for a Baylor starting quarterback, along with a multitude of other school records.