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Baylor's Robert Griffin III Poised For Next Step
February 20, 2012
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent


FORT WORTH - Robert Griffin III has been described many ways. As he transitions from college student-athlete to pro athlete, the description that most fits belongs in a cell phone commercial: He's a mobile app.

Baylor's Heisman Trophy winner was here to officially accept the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award Monday night at the annual awards dinner. For RG3, it was a stopover before the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis.

RG3's running ability combined with his strong arm and passing accuracy is a rare combination. The success of Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman winner, as a rookie has NFL teams pondering a new generation of QBs - strong-armed slingers who can out-maneuver and out-run defenders.

"He brings what not many other quarterbacks can bring - mobility," said quarterback coach Terry Shea, who has been tutoring Griffin at Athletes' Performance in Arizona.

Former NFL quarterback Jim Kelly, who was presented with the Davey O'Brien Legends Award, said that Griffin must first prove he can be effective passing from the pocket.

"He's got everything you want as a quarterback," he said. "You want an NFL quarterback who goes through his progressions in the pocket … but when the play breaks down, if you can get out and move and throw like Robert, that's a huge threat to the defense."

Griffin, who bypassed his senior season to make himself eligible for the NFL Draft, is projected to be one of the first four players selected in April. Stanford's Andrew Luck is expected to be selected No. 1 by Indianapolis. Luck also was the preseason favorite to win the Heisman last season.

"We both want to be the best, we both want to be No. 1. Whether I get drafted first or not, it's not going to change the way I play,'' Griffin said. "All I can say, it's about motivation. You never want to feel like everybody thinks you're a sure thing in life because it can rob you of your motivation to go out and get better.''

Griffin has been improving his strength through weight training and working with Shea on his footwork. While Griffin's athletic abilities are obvious, refining his balance while moving in the pocket is one of several areas where a minor improvement can pay huge dividends.

Griffin doesn't plan to throw at the NFL Combine. He'll save that for his pro day on March 21 at Baylor.

"It's like a performance when it comes to your pro day and when you're throwing," said Griffin, who became the seventh Big 12 quarterback since 1998 to win the O'Brien Award. "It's exactly like a performance, you've just got to memorize the script and go out and execute to the best of your ability.''

Since winning the Heisman on Dec. 10, Griffin has spent more than two months as the center of attention, a college football rock star. As he faced down about 10 mini cams and microphones, RG3 said he has become used to the glare of the spotlight. He hopes for a respite after the draft.

"It's been a whirlwind," he said. "We made a lot of great memories - a great bowl victory, 10 wins, the Heisman, beating Texas twice in a row, beating Oklahoma for the first time - those are all memories I want to sit back and enjoy but I haven't had the chance.

"I know the NFL is a business but the guys who are successful are the ones who still enjoy playing the game. You have to protect yourself in the business but the best way to protect yourself is to be great. That's what I plan to do."

Before he played a down of college football, Griffin won the 400 meter hurdles at the Big 12 Championships. He doesn't say returning to the track is out of the question, pointing out that hurdler Edwin Moses was winning races at age 40.

RG3 graduated in three years with a degree in political science, needs to write his thesis to finish his Masters in film/digital media and he is interested in attending law school.

So how about an NFL quarterback who is a lawyer competing in the 400 meter hurdles in the Summer Olympics?

"That would be a great story," said the young man who helped author one of the great stories in recent college football last season.

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