Londonderry’s Griffin wants to follow Reyes from UConn to NFL

Ryan Griffin had a one-word answer for how he made it to the University of Connecticut.

“Luck,” the Huskies senior tight end said with a smile during Big East media day on July 31 in Newport, R.I.

Any football player from New Hampshire is going to need some luck to stick with a Division I program, but there was a lot more to it than luck for the former Londonderry High School standout.

“You’ve got to go to camps, you’ve got to go out there and get exposed,” Griffin said. “I try to talk to some of the younger guys when I go back and try to tell them to get out and be seen. Go to the UNH camps and go to the BC camps. That’s what I did, and it worked out for me.”

Griffin has had plenty of exposure during his five seasons at UConn. As a red-shirt sophomore, he played on a Huskies team that won a share of the Big East title and went to the Fiesta Bowl. Last season, he was third on the team in receiving, hauling in 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns.

His play as both a receiving and blocking tight end earned Griffin some recognition heading into 2012. Not only has Griffin been honored by several media outlets as a Big East preseason all-conference player, but he was also named to the watch list for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the top tight end in college football.

“He has potential for leadership and he’s a very consistent performer,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said of Griffin. “He’s capable of playing both tight end positions. One is right next to the tackle and can block, and the other is the guy who can catch and looks like more of a receiver. He has position flexibility and real value because he can do both. And he can contribute on special teams. He’s a valuable part of our team.”

Being versatile on the football field is nothing new to Griffin. During his early days at The New Hampton School, he was all over the field. And when he returned to Londonderry for his senior season, Griffin did the same out of an offense – the single wing – that required him to play multiple positions.

“I played some receiver, quarterback, safety, linebacker,” he said. “Even in prep school, I did that.”

And it wasn’t just football that helped Griffin become an all-around athlete. For a time, he had hoped to continue playing basketball at the collegiate level, but when the football coaches started calling, it was hard to say no.

“I thought that I would play college basketball,” he said. “But UNH then offered me a (football) scholarship and I was blown away. And then UConn came in and it was happily ever after. I’m lucky to be here. I’m thankful for all the sports my dad made me play.”

Although UConn was picked to finish sixth in the Big East by the media, Griffin has high hopes for the Huskies in 2012. With several returning seniors, Griffin believes the leadership on the team will carry UConn through the tough times it might face.

And the tight end knows that if he and the Huskies turn in a great year, he’ll have a pretty good shot at following a former teammate and fellow New Hampshire native to the next level. Nashua’s Kendall Reyes was drafted by the Chargers in April after a stellar career at UConn, and Griffin knows if he works hard, he’ll have a good chance at hearing his name called during next year’s draft.

“I would like to go to the NFL, but I’m focused on this season,” Griffin said. “There is good football being played up there (in New Hampshire), as you can see with Kendall’s success. Hopefully, I can follow in his footsteps.”