Baylor freshman Robert Griffin won a track and field gold medal last spring by finishing first in the Big 12 Conference 400-meter hurdles. Grififn's time of 49.22 was the third-fastest in school history.
Griffin, however, won't be defending his title this spring. That's because he also excels as Baylor's starting quarterback and has decided to forego track so he can concentrate on football.
Baylor coach Art Briles said Griffin plans to increase his playing weight from the 200 pounds he played with last year to around 210 pounds this year.
"So he's chosen, at this point, not to run track this spring so he can continue to progress as a football player and add some weight to his frame and become as explosive a football player as he can possibly be,'' Briles said during Tuesday's Big 12 Conference call. "So that to me shows a lot of vision for Robert _ a lot of focus _ and then a lot of team togetherness, because what he's doing is sacrificing an opportunity to defend his Big 12 title in the 400 hurdles for this football team and for the other players on this team.
"So that's part of being a great leader and that's what makes Robert what he is. He is a person that has vision, has focus and has the respect of our players by his leadership.''
After enrolling at Baylor in January of 2008, Griffin finished third at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last spring in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 49.55. That bronze medal helped him earned Track and Field All-American status.
Griffin also excelled on the football field last year and was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and gained first-team Freshman All-American honors after he completed 160-of-267 passes for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns. But Briles believes the best is yet to come from the Copperas Cove native.
"He's a completely different player now than he was going into the Wake Forest (season-opening) game a year ago,'' Briles said. "A year ago we were kind of hoping and wondering and wishing, and this year we know we have a good percentage of the outcome of what's going to happen with Robert with his production on this play in this situation.
"He's so much stronger physically. Without a doubt we're going to see plays made this year that might not have been made a year ago, just on his physical presence and physical strength.''
Briles added that the additional weight will also be a bonus to Griffin in other areas.
"The thing about adding weight with strength is that you maintain your speed and your power and your explosiveness, and that's what Robert's going to do,'' Briles said. "So we feel real comfortable where he's at with his body.''
Briles also said Griffin is on target to graduate after his junior year. But he hopes to convince him to stay at Baylor longer.
"We want him to stay here a long time and get his Master's (degree) after he graduates as a junior,'' Briles said. "The thing that makes Robert special is that Robert's got a plan. He doesn't wake up every day and wonder what's going to happen. He set out a plan, he's following it nicely, and part of that plan that he's on right now is to add weight to his frame.
"Robert's always been a smart person, and he understands the game. But there's a couple of things money can't buy, and that's health and experience. He's got great experience coming into this season and that's going to make for a tremendous benefit for him.''
_ Dwain Price