By Taylor Eastman
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Following his success on both the asphalt and gridiron over the past year, it is no surprise that Robert Griffin III has become a household name at Baylor. After graduating seventh in his class in December 2007, Griffin wasted no time showcasing his athletic talents at Baylor.
With vigorous spring football workouts only a week behind him, Griffin joined the Bears track team and managed to make a smooth transition from the turf to the track.
“In track, it is all you; your team is not out there helping you run,” Griffin said. “Because of that, you have to have more self-confidence and trust in your abilities.”
Griffin proved that he lacks no self-confidence in his abilities on the track. And although he was a late addition to the team, his performance certainly didn’t show it.
He went on to win the Big 12 400-meter hurdles championship last May before finishing third in the NCAA Outdoor Championships. At a time when he should have been attending his senior prom and graduating from high school, he was already an All-American athlete.
At age 11, he found his niche in the hurdles and reached the Junior Olympics, which was only the first of many recognized accomplishments. With his dad training him, he began competing in other events like the 400 meters, high jump and the pentathlon.
“My parents used the same approach in my academic and athletic development by finding the resources to plan, monitor and evaluate my performances through many stages of my development,” Griffin said. “They ensured I was always prepared and confident in my ability.”
With the support of his parents, Griffin became one of the nation's top high school sprinters. After setting state records in both the 110- (13.55 seconds) and 300- (35.33 seconds) meter hurdles, he received the 2007 Gatorade Texas Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year award.
Griffin isn’t one to bask in his past accomplishments. Instead, he is continuously looking to what’s ahead and how he can improve his already exceptional talents.
He is currently focused on spring football which started last week for the Bears, but outdoor track isn’t too far from his mind. With one year under his belt, RG3 feels better prepared to face the challenges that come with participating in two sports.
“I know it isn’t easy to train between seasons.” Griffin said. “I now know what to expect and how hard I have to work to accomplish my goals.”
While there are many athletes who strictly train for one sport, Griffin reaps the benefits of training for two.
“Football is a tough man’s sport so it helps me with my toughness,” Griffin said. “Because of football, I am more mentally tough and it helps me to fight through those tough races.”
“Being in track keeps my foot speed high (for football). Most players’ speed doesn’t carry over because football pads slow them down, but mine does.”
That same speed that led him to a Big 12 title in the 400-meter hurdles helped Griffin rush for 846 yards and 13 touchdowns in the 2008 season. He also threw for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
With his success as a true freshman, Griffin has gained the reputation of being a big-play threat, which is just what the Bears have been looking for to bring some life back to their football program.
Griffin also is a leader and role model off the field as well. He is active in the community and makes frequent trips to local elementary schools. He can also be spotted in the stands supporting fellow student-athletes or playing intramural basketball in his free time. But for Griffin, that free time is hard to come by.
When he is not participating in athletic events or helping out in the community, his focus shifts to academics. Griffin has proven himself to be just as driven in the classroom after being named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll in each of his first two semesters at Baylor. He credits that discipline to his parents.
“My parents prepared me for each level of my education and reinforced what I was taught in school," Griffin said. "They provided many incentives for me and my sisters to perform well. They showed me the importance of good study habits.”
Griffin is a political science major and, while he hopes to attend law school one day, he isn’t making any permanent plans just yet.
“If I am invited into the sports world, I would love to take advantage of that opportunity,” he said.