Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lancers' Griffin commits to UConn

H.S. Football: Lancers' Griffin commits to UConn
New Hampshire Union Leader Sports
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007

One glance at Londonderry High's Ryan Griffin and it's difficult to look away.

The 6-foot-6, 227-pound senior has been described as a "physical specimen" by several New Hampshire high school football coaches.

The University of Connecticut coaching staff apparently agrees.

Griffin said last night that he accepted a full scholarship on Monday to play Big East football for UConn.

"It happened so quickly. They offered it Sunday night, (UConn offensive line coach and recruiter Mike Foley) visited Monday and I took it right there," said Griffin, recruited to play tight end. "Can I believe it? I think I can believe it. I put in the work. It's definitely inspiring."

"We verbally shook hands. It's an honorable agreement between men at this point," Joe Griffin, Ryan's father, said. "When all is said and done on national signing day, that's where he'll be going."

Griffin, recruited during his middle school days to play quarterback at New Hampton Prep, isn't the only local talent Granite Staters can continue to follow on the big-time college gridiron.

Carl Cutler, Hanover's 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior tight end/linebacker, accepted a full scholarship earlier this year to play football for Syracuse University. Josh Lane, the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Pinkerton Academy of Derry offensive/defensive lineman, accepted a full scholarship last Saturday to play for the University of New Hampshire.

UNH also offered Griffin a scholarship last spring at Boston College's football camp. UConn wasn't represented at the camp, Griffin said. But word of his size and speed still made it to Storrs, Conn.

That will happen, outgoing Londonderry head coach Tom Sawyer said, when an athlete of Griffin's size and weight runs a "4-7 (4.7 seconds) and change in the 40 (-yard dash)."

UConn wasted little time acquiring game footage of Griffin. Soon after the Huskies hit him with a blitz of the scholarship variety.

"Connecticut, once the blood was in the water and they saw film of him, they were very aggressive," Griffin's father said.

Sawyer, who retired at the conclusion of the 2007 season, said UConn's coaches will be welcoming an "impact player" to campus. In Londonderry's Single Wing offense, Griffin earned Most Valuable Player honors. He scored nine touchdowns and rushed for 749 yards on 95 carries in '07. He completed 15 of 25 passes for 160 yards and a TD (no INTs) and caught 10 passes for 147 yards and a score.

UConn, Sawyer said, is searching for play-making threats in the passing game. Griffin could provide that boost.

"Right now, they're like a Big Ten team. They're going to slug it out (with the running game)," Sawyer said of UConn. "They're looking for guys who can go up and catch the football, help them take the next step, and beat those spread teams."

"I've been blessed to have people who tell me what I need to work on," said Griffin, who said the UConn coaches want him at a playing weight of 255 pounds by the end of his freshman year. "There's pressure, but you've got to live with it. If you don't deal with it, you break and you don't go to Connecticut. There's no other choice for me."

Pinkerton's Lane, much like Griffin, said he didn't hesitate when the Wildcats made their offer.

"Coach (Sean) McDonnell came to school on Friday and offered the scholarship," said Lane, whose older brother, Jason, is a scholarship offensive lineman at Northeastern. "I had my mind made up. I wanted to do Division I-AA. If not, I would go to prep school. (UNH) was my top choice. I didn't even bother waiting around."

Lane said the UNH coaches will likely use him as an offensive guard or center. En route to their third consecutive Division I title this season, the Astros routinely ran behind the powerful and aggressive lineman. In fourth-down conversion situations, Lane was always asked to clear the way, Pinkerton head coach Brian O'Reilly said.

Equally dominant on the defensive line this season, Lane ranked sixth on the team in tackles (68). He also recorded 15 tackles for a loss and three quarterback sacks.

"Josh Lane is the best lineman I've ever had in my program. No one has ever compared to him," O'Reilly said after the D-I championship game. "Josh Lane is immense on both sides of the ball. He's the nicest kid you'd ever want to meet. But on a football field, he is one of the meanest kids I have ever coached. He is all business on a football field."

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