Power Five football teams don’t offer eighth-graders scholarships very often.
But it’s also rare to find a middle schooler who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 260 pounds with athleticism to match his size.
Savannah Christian eighth-grader Elijah Griffin got an offer on Tuesday from the University of Georgia, as the Bulldogs got in first with the defensive lineman with unlimited potential.
“I was at lunch at school and (Savannah Christian) coach (Baker) Woodward said they were on the phone for me,” said Griffin, who turns 14 on Oct. 12. “I knew they had been talking, but I didn’t know it was going to go like this. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe it — and this is just the beginning of it all.”
Griffin quickly made a call to his mother, Ashley Griffin, a police officer in Pooler, who was just as shocked as her son.
“This all feels like a dream,” Ashley Griffin said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “It was crazy when he called, and at first I thought he was playing. I asked him to put an adult on the phone, and coach Woodward said it was true.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m definitely proud of him. I never thought it would go this far, this early. I’m so excited for him, and I’m going to make sure he keeps up with his grades, because that’s paramount to me.”
Woodward, in his third year coaching the Savannah Christian varsity team, said he’s looking forward to having Griffin on the squad next year. Woodward had been talking with Georgia coaches Glenn Schumann (co-defensive coordinator – inside linebackers) and Tray Scott (assistant coach – defensive line) about Griffin, who plays on both sides of the line for the middle school team, and is also a standout basketball player.
“Elijah is a tremendous athlete, he’s probably the fastest kid on our eighth-grade team, and he’s been able to dunk a basketball since he was in the sixth grade,” Woodward said. “And he’s just a great person. He’s an ‘A’ and ‘B’ student, and he’s a big kid who can run and moves so well.
“I think UGA was thinking ‘Why wait?’ with Elijah,” Woodward said. “They thought ‘Let’s give him an offer and be the first one in on his recruiting.’ He’s a great young player, and they recognize that. We can’t wait to have him on our team next year.”
Elijah is already getting a taste of what it will be like playing for Savannah Christian under the Friday night lights as he is currently serving as a ball boy for the team.