ESPN 150 DL Kelsey Griffin talks leaders

Early in his recruitment, ESPN 150 prospect Kelsey Griffin (Hoschton, Ga./Mill Creek) had no ties to the University of Georgia. In fact, the 6-foot-2, 290-pound defensive lineman admitted that, as a sophomore, he was basically starting out with an empty slate. Griffin has done his due diligence, and he narrowed down his 20 offers to five programs.

“I never had a college team growing up, but I have narrowed it down to Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, FSU and Auburn, in order,” said Griffin, who through the last two years has established himself as an active interior defender, making 178 tackles.

This weekend he discussed his top five:

Auburn: “I visited Auburn in camp last year and they are a good school with solid coaches. They put out a lot of big time players and I know what they have to offer.”

Florida/FSU: “I have not visited Florida and FSU yet, but I plan to visit them in the next two weeks. I know they are good teams.”

South Carolina: “They put out a lot of good defensive linemen and their defensive line coach really knows what he is doing. I like it down there and it feels kind of like home so that is why they are high on my list. They are having a prospect event July 16 so I will probably go then.”

Georgia: “They are No. 1 basically by just being Georgia. I like the defensive line coach and I like the defense they run. I am from Georgia and it feels like home. I definitely enjoy it in Athens and I feel it fits me right now.”

Early on, Griffin knew little about the Bulldogs, but he found out more about the program and it emerged as his leader.

“After showing me the campus, hanging out with the staff, I got to know more about what the school was all about,” he said. “It changed my whole perspective on Georgia. Coach [Bryan] McClendon is recruiting my area so I talk to him a lot, and I keep in touch with defensive line Coach [Rodney] Garner a lot.”

Last weekend Griffin took another visit to Athens, but this time the No. 13 prospect in Georgia was not necessarily on campus to talk recruiting.

“I talked to the coaches, spent time on the campus and hung out with some of the players,” Griffin said. “I hung out a lot with Amarlo Herrera. This trip was not about recruiting so much as it was just a simple, relaxing day with the boys. “

Georgia has a commitment from juco nose guard Chris Mayes (Griffin, Ga./Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) and another potential nose in DeAndre Johnson (Newnan, Ga./Northgate), but the Bulldogs will likely need as many as three more defensive linemen in this class. Griffin feels he can make a solid contribution in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.

“Georgia runs a three man front, but they have the outside linebacker come down to the line a lot,” Griffin said. “I think I can help out at defensive end and nose guard there. The depth chart is not that big of a deal because I know I can work hard and earn my spot.”

Griffin will be back at Georgia very soon.

“I am just going to Dawg Night to just hang out,” Griffin said. “I am looking forward to hanging out with J.J. Green (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County). We met at the Rising Seniors and we talk all of the time. He is a cool kid.”

The No. 12 defensive tackle prospect in the 2013 class, Griffin originally had planned on taking all of his official visits before making a decision. Now he feels he could be done earlier.

“I think I should be wrapping up my commitment soon but I do not have a specific date,” he said. “I have tried to take things slow and make the right decision, but when the time comes I will be ready.”

When he makes his commitment, Griffin knows he will have the support of his parents.

“My dad usually comes with me to Georgia, but my parents probably want to come with me next time to get to know a little more about the program,” he said. “My parents know it is my decision, and they know how important my education is to me, so they plan to support me wherever I go.”