The 90 Illini #58: Caleb Griffin
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It's just so jarring to look at the roster and see "K/WR". Who has a K/WR on their roster? Illinois has a K/WR on their roster. Roster goals: land a P/DT recruit next season.
Oh God, a punter/defensive tackle would be amazing. How great would it be to have some 285 lb. punter? Can we make this happen? And then after that, a longsnapper/cornerback.
58. Caleb Griffin
Uniform number: 5
Year in school: Sophomore (without the Covid waiver, 2 years to play 2; with the Covid waiver, technically 3 years to play 3)
Height: 6'-3" -- Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: Danville, Illinois
High School: Danville HS
Best offers: Iowa, Ball State, Bowling Green
2020 statistics: As fascinating as any stat line in history...
1-1 on field goals, 5-5 on extra points, and was the starting punt returner in December.
Let's see... he committed to Illinois by telling people to look at his socks when he came out of the locker room for a Danville basketball game (the Danville hoops team being led by Griffin and Julian Pearl). He came out in orange socks and not Iowa-yellow socks, so Illinois was the choice. First-ever sock announcement?
When he arrived on campus, Chase McLaughlin was the kicker, so a redshirt was certain. Then, in the spring of 2019 and at the fall training camp, it was a one-on-one kicking battle between the two scholarship kickers: James McCourt (a redshirt junior) and Caleb Griffin (a redshirt freshman). McCourt won the job, which meant that Griffin had the same path that McCourt did when McCourt lost the kicking battle with McLaughlin when he was a freshman: wait until redshirt junior season, then win starting kicking job.
Last year, McCourt missed two games due to contact tracing. So Griffin was the kicker for the Purdue game and the Minnesota game. McCourt returned for Rutgers (and kicked the game-winner).
Covid extended both of their timelines. McCourt now gets an extra year in 2021, but so does Griffin (who is a redshirt sophomore once again). So it's still the same plan: redshirt junior year and redshirt senior year, he's the starting kicker. That will just be 2022 and 2023 now, not 2021 and 2022.
But while he's waiting, well, he's trying some other stuff. He was the punt returner in December last year (yes, the backup kicker was the punt returner). This spring he worked out with the wide receivers. Yes, the kicker changed his number to #5 (Carlos Sandy is already the WR wearing #11) and worked out with the wide receivers.
Will he get snaps there this fall? With all the new arrivals at WR (Isaiah Williams and Marquez Beason moving there, Notre Dame transfer Jafar Armstrong arriving on campus, freshman Patrick Bryant arriving on campus), I doubt Griffin makes the rotation. But I didn't think he'd be the punt returner last year, either.
So still put me down for "starting kicker in 2022 and 2023" and maybe put "and also a wide receiver/punt returner?" in small print below.