North Texas Daily

Dynamic recruit Griffin has potential to be next two-sport star at UNT

Dynamic recruit Griffin has potential to be next two-sport star at UNT

May 05
02:59 2016

Brady Keane | Staff Writer

@BradyKeane

Deion Griffin is fast.

The Arlington Heights High School senior who signed to play football with the Mean Green next season is so fast that his speed in the 200m dash would have placed 2nd at the K.T. Woodman Classic as a member of the North Texas track and field team last weekend.

With that speed, Griffin has the potential to join a short list of athletes who have competed for both the football and track team at North Texas. The most successful member of that exclusive club, Johnny Quinn, is the all-time leading receiver in school history with 2,718 yards. He ran on the relay team for the Mean Green as well.

Now, Quinn is an American Olympic bobsledder and competed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

“We’ve had guys do it before, and we’ve been really successful with it in the past,” head track and field coach Carl Sheffield said. “It just depends on the quality of the athlete, because competing in Conference USA is a really high task.”

Throughout the last four years at Arlington Heights, Griffin has used his elusive speed and quickness to excel on both the football field and the track. Despite being undersized at the quarterback position, Griffin used his speed to make an impact under center.

As a junior, he  threw for 25 touchdowns without an interception while also running 1,000 yards and making 15 touchdowns. The Mean Green plans to use the dynamic playmaker in the slot position next season.

“Speed is my biggest asset. It helped me in high school by making people fear not only the pass, but the run,” Griffin said. “Now in college, I’ll just be using my speed to create space between me and the defender.”

While his numbers on the football field certainly stood out to Littrell and the rest of the coaching staff, Griffin credits track for helping to further develop his competitive nature and toughness.

“With both sports, there is a mental and physical toughness,” Griffin said. “When you’re tired while training, you want to give up. But your mind has to overcome your body. Both sports can make you physically uncomfortable, but that helps so when you get to the football field, you can thrive in uncomfortable situations.”

Littrell said speed is one of the biggest things the team looks for while out on the recruiting trail.

“It’s big,” Littrell said. “Obviously, you want to get guys that have speed, and speed kills. You want guys that get out and run. It’s been fun watching some of our guys signed on for next year do great things in track events.”

So far, Griffin has certainly been one to do great things during track season. After taking first place at both district and area meets and second in the regional meet, the high school senior is advancing to the 5A State meet at the University of Texas on Friday, May 13.

Griffin’s fastest time in the 200m, 21.18, is faster than 11 of the 12 Mean Green athletes to run the race at the collegiate level this season. Only junior Colin Heard was faster, with a 21.05 run at the UTA Invitational in March.

Despite the time commitments required to play in college, Sheffield said the two sports co-exist well with cooperation from coaches on both sides.

“Football is going to be their major sport, and we’re always going to be the understudy,” Sheffield said. “The only logistical issue is what happens in the spring time when they have practice and we’re in season. I’ve had guys that did their football stuff in the morning and then came to track practice in the evening.”

If Griffin is able to continue the sport at the collegiate level, Sheffield said it could benefit him on the football field. In addition to the extra competition, it provides a chance to continue to build on the impressive speed that is already there.

“I’m definitely going to say yes,” Sheffield said. “We believe that those kids were getting the off-season conditioning in high school, so why keep them from continuing that success?”

Featured Image: Courtesy | UNT

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