Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Jay Griffin IV is a low-maintenance athlete.
That’s how University of New Mexico coach Bob Davie describes his lightning-quick wide receiver, who doubles as a sprinter for the Lobo track and field team.
Griffin, who speaks softly, is rather simple in explaining how he makes the transition from the football field to the track.
“I’ve just been practicing as hard as I can at both sports,” said Griffin, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound redshirt junior. “Making sure that I stay at the top of my game at track and at football, because they are both very important to me. I just want to do the best I can at both sports.”
He’d prefer to just show you what he can do.
His versatility, and his low maintenance, were on full display on Saturday. He went from running routes during scrimmage plays in Dreamstyle Stadium to hustling over to the track next door and winning the 100- and 200-meter events at the Don Kirby Tailwind Collegiate Open.
Griffin said he enjoyed being followed around by a cameraman, Jon Washington, who produced a behind-the-scenes v-log of Griffin’s eventful Saturday.
Washington, the UNM director of marketing and creative services, watched and recorded Griffin, who took in a pass from quarterback Trae Hall during the scrimmage. Then moments later, Griffin ran into the locker room to change out of his helmet, jersey and pads and into his sprinter’s gear. Along the way to the track, Griffin refueled with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Washington said.
As he always tends to do, Griffin interacted with teammates and calmly prepared for his races.
“I saw how cool he was and nonchalant about (being on camera),” Washington said.
Griffin won the 100 in 10.60 seconds and the 200 in 21.16 seconds. Last month, he won the Mountain West Conference indoor title in the 200 (21.08), breaking a school record he had set earlier in the season.
“We have not had a guy that has been (as) successful doing it on both ends (in track and football) as Jay Griffin,” said Davie, who is in his eighth year with the Lobos. “That says a lot, because it’s easy to say you’re going to run track. But there’s a lot of stuff involved. … It’s fun and it’s great, but it puts an extra demand on you.”
Davie wants Griffin to produce for the UNM football team. Griffin excelled in 2017, named the team offensive MVP for having delivered explosive plays in the Lobos’ triple-option. There was excitement for Griffin’s sophomore season at this time last year when UNM installed the spread offense with then-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee.
But Griffin finished with only 21 receptions for 168 yards. His best game came in the season opener against Incarnate Word, with 43 yards receiving and a long of 34. He had big-play touchdowns in 2017, a 71-yarder against Air Force, a 62-yarder against San Diego State – to go with a career-high six catches for 110 yards – and a 61-yard TD run against rival New Mexico State.
Griffin says he has a lot to prove this season. He wants to provide big plays again with new offensive coordinator Joe Dailey trying to get the ball in his hands.
“This system is designed for players like him,” said Dailey, who calls his offense “a hybrid spread.” “He’s low-maintenance, high productivity. You don’t have to baby him or spoon-feed him. That guy is going to come to work and he’s going to do everything you ask him to do.”
Griffin is made for Dailey’s system because of his speed and his ability to make people miss. Dailey said the offense will have a variety of formations, including plenty of up-tempo run-pass-option.
“I feel like I have gotten a lot better since two years ago,” Griffin said. “This season will be really good for me and the team. I think we’re going to win a lot of games this year.”