Semper Fi: Having it Both Ways

Semper Fi: Having it Both Ways

Every day when Marcus Griffin gets up, he gets the same text message from Cal signee Devante Downs, and he'll be reunited with his old friend and new recruiter soon enough.

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- Former Washington State commit Marcus Griffin had a rather uneventful flight down from his home in Bellevue, Wash., but he was still a bit later to the Hyatt Regency Orange County than expected. Why? He took a detour.

"I had to get me some In-N-Out," Griffin deadpanned.

The 6-foot-3, 292-pound defensive tackle more than earned his double double at the beginning of the month, winning his third state title and being named first-team all-state as both an offensive guard and a three-technique DT.

"It's a fun experience every year that I've done it," Griffin said of winning the state title. "It was a little different this year, because I had to play both ways, so I didn't really get to sit out like I did last year when the offense had the ball. I had to go the full game and special teams, but it was fun. There's no better feeling than going out the right way your senior year, and win one with your boys. We showed really who the top dog is, again, because you have to prove it to everyone."

The experience on offense was novel for Griffin, who played almost exclusively on defense for his entire undefeated high school career. Because Bellevue wanted more size on the line this year, though, Griffin found himself playing both ways.

"I played like, ninth grade year a little bit, when I played fullback and when I played guard, but that was barely anything. Sophomore year was a struggle, because I got introduced to the wing-T, so I had to get used to all the verbiage. My junior year, I started to play a little bit, and this year, they threw me in the fire."

During his junior year, Griffin would play "maybe a quarter" on offense, and would play the entire first half on defense, and then would "just chill" in the fourth quarters, since the Wolverines would generally be comfortably in the lead.

Griffin has seen his stock rise steadily over the past year, culminating in his appearance in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl this Sunday.

"It's a great experience for me to be a part of it," Griffin said. "We all dream of being the best, and it's kind of nice being recognized as one of the best in the nation, not just your area. It's a fun experience, and I'm ready to compete and see what's out there.

"I know a lot of the guys here. The TCU commit – the offensive lineman (Ty Barrett) – I've been talking to him, Jonathan Lockett, Chandler Leniu, Kammy [Delp], Dalis [Todd], we all follow each other on twitter and we've become friends."

Once the weekend – and then, the winter dead period – is over, Griffin has at least one more official visit set. On Jan. 17, he'll pay a visit to good friend – and California early signee -- Devante Downs in Berkeley.

"It's basically the same message every day: Come to Cal," Griffin smiled. "I'll wake up to a text message from him just about every day. I think he might be my host for my visit."

Other than spending some quality time with Downs, Griffin is excited to get more face time with the coaches, including defensive tackles coach Barry Sacks.

"I love coach Sacks. That's my guy. He's a passionate man," Griffin said. "He knows his stuff. He's put a lot of guys in the league, and he's just very passionate about getting kids through school and getting their degree – not just pushing them through, but helping them actually learn something."

Griffin previously visited the Bears during the third week of the season, when Cal took on Ohio State in a largely-scarlett Memorial Stadium. Griffin certainly noticed the abundance of Buckeyes fans, but still enjoyed the experience.

"It was a great atmosphere. I was kind of thrown off by all the red, but it was really cool, and I had a great time," he said. "All the players still showed me a good time, and the coaches still were nice to me, and it was really cool."

Griffin won't be picking a hat from a table on Sunday during the game, but his final choices come down to Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, UCLA, Washington and Washington State. Griffin said he may visit the Wildcats officially before signing day.

"I think the thing that separates Cal is that the degree can do a lot more," Griffin said. "That name is held to higher standards than other schools, and it just puts you farther ahead in the real world. Other schools offer the same thing, just not to the same extent, and some have just better opportunities for me to play early."

With the Bears signing two early-enrollee JuCo defensive tackles, early playing time may be at a premium, but, then again, Jacobi Hunter was able to break through as a true freshman this season over older options.

"They want me at a three-tech or at weakside end, and the JuCos would just be a one. They wouldn't put them at three," Griffin said.

Just as he was for the Wolverines, Griffin is nothing if not adaptable.

"I'm whatever they need me to be," he said.

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