Marcus Griffin: Leading the secondary
With 40 career games under his belt, senior safety Marcus Griffin is one of the Longhorns' most experienced players -- not a bad accomplishment for someone who originally arrived at Texas without a scholarship.
The Austin native turned down opportunities at other schools in order to play for the Longhorns. His decision paid off just before his sophomore season, when head coach Mack Brown rewarded him with a scholarship.
"Walking on here really made me appreciate the scholarship even more," said Griffin. "It's about working hard every day, and it made me realize that you can do just about anything you put your mind to. I stuck with it and Coach (Mack) Brown blessed me with a scholarship and I was very appreciative."
And Brown doesn't regret his decision at all.
"He is such a dynamic hitter," said Brown. "He is so physical and what we have got to do is continue to turn him loose and let him hit like he does. Marcus is really a good football player."
As the most experienced player in the secondary, Griffin has had the opportunity to play alongside some of the most talented defensive backs in Texas history, including his twin brother Michael Griffin, Michael Huff, Aaron Ross, Cedric Griffin and Tarell Brown, all of whom are currently in the NFL.
"Playing with those guys was great, but I was kind of nervous at first because they set the bar so high, and I didn't want to be the weakest link and mess up," said Griffin. "It was a great experience because they helped me along and they helped instill confidence in me."
Marcus was able to learn from those veteran players and still continues to learn from them by keeping in close contact.
"We still keep in touch with each other. (Michael) Huff text messaged me after the (Rice) game and teased me about how little I look on TV," Griffin laughed. "Aaron Ross and I text message, and I always talk to my brother."
"Marcus has proven himself as a player," said Huff, who is now with the Oakland Raiders. "He's worked hard for everything he's gotten and done everything Coach Akina has asked him to do. I know he's stepping up to become a leader and keeping up the DB tradition at Texas."
Griffin, who is often pegged as the shy, quiet type, knows that now it is time to return the favor and guide the younger players.
"I'm not the most talkative person, so basically I just try to lead by example and just try to set a good example," said Griffin. "And if people come to me with questions, I try to help them out to the best of my ability."
Griffin leads the Longhorns with 170 career tackles. He has also posted seven PBU, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
"On the field I just like to try and instill confidence (in the younger guys), because if somebody gives you encouragement, you'll get better," Griffin said. >
Junior DB Ryan Palmer notes that Griffin has also been a role model for some of the veteran players who have not had the same level of game experience. >
"He's a great leader," said Palmer. "He performs well on the field, in practice and in class. He is just a good model for all of us, including me, Brandon (Foster) and all of the younger guys. I think (having) Marcus back there keeps us gelled together."
With a team high of 38 tackles in only the first four games of the season, Griffin is on track to have the most successful season of his career. Griffin credits co-defensive coordinator Duane Akina with sculpting him into the player he has become.
"I now recognize what a blessing it is to have him as a defensive back coach," said Griffin. "He's had four Thorpe Award winners, so it just shows you how much he knows about the defensive back position.
"He used to tell us to do stuff that I thought was impossible, but then he puts clips on and he shows us how to do it," added Griffin. "He's going to tell you to do stuff that you've never even heard of, but he knows what he's talking about. He's a really good coach."
Griffin's hard work has not gone unnoticed.
"I think Marcus Griffin is playing really well right now and he is playing with a lot of confidence," said Akina. "The neatest thing is that he is much like Aaron Ross because he doesn't have all the preseason hype, but he still feels like he has a lot to prove."
From walk-on to leader, Griffin has and continues to prove what he is capable of.