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March 7, 2011Just a few months ago, running back Nick Griffin was facing adjustments during his first campaign at Mississippi State. Naturally, the now-redshirt freshman was finding his way with the Bulldogs and soaking in as much knowledge in a short period of time.
These days in his first spring practice session, Griffin acknowledged that things are moving at a faster pace, and that's a good thing.
"In fall practice, everything was going slower for me," said Griffin. "I was just learning how to practice and learning the playbook so I had to take things slow. But now that I have started to catch up, things are starting to go real fast. We are having to re-learn everything again. But for me, it is easier to pick things back up now."
What aided Griffin and other redshirt freshmen in their acclimation to Division 1 football was the extra practice reps received back in December. In the first couple of weeks of Gator Bowl preparations, head coach Dan Mullen gave a lot of the reps to young guys like Griffin.
"Oh, it helped me out a lot," said Griffin. "Actually, I got most of the knowledge I have now during bowl practice. That really helped me to get a lot of reps and to actually get those increased reps instead of watching. It makes a difference to actually go through those reps. It was a little tiring (laughing) but it was all worth it."
Griffin has used another luxury to his benefit in his first few months on campus. This fall, the Bulldogs will exhibit a pair of senior tailbacks in Vick Ballard and Robert Elliott as well as redshirt sophomore LaDarius Perkins, who came on strong at the end of last year. Griffin said he has already learned a lot from those veterans and is seeking to learn even more.
"It helps me out a whole lot," said Griffin. "I just try to follow their lead and they are good guys to learn from and we all have to start out somewhere.
"I am just trying to learn everything in the playbook. Vick and Elliott and Perkins always try to help me out and get me in the right positions."
While Griffin has made mental strides in his game, the same can be said from a physical standpoint. Griffin reported at MSU around 195 pounds but has since added several pounds of muscle to help him adjust to physical defenses in the SEC.
"I am at 220 (pounds) right now," said the 5-foot-11 Griffin. "I think it is a good weight and I feel pretty good right now at that weight."
And that extra weight will aid Griffin, naturally, when it comes to running between the tackles as well as blocking oncoming linebackers. Thus far in spring ball, Griffin was asked which MSU linebackers presents the biggest challenge to block.
"It would have to be Brandon Wilson," said Griffin. "He comes with it every time and brings it every time. So it has to be Brandon Wilson."
During his prep career at Perry Central, Griffin was normally the most talented and most gifted athlete on the field. In fact, he rushed for over 2,000 yards as a senior at produced 37 touchdowns en route to all-state honors.
Now that he faces more talent on a daily basis - in practice and later this fall - Griffin is just wanting to "contribute" in any area needed in the offensive backfield.
"I really don't know," said Griffin. "I am just trying to get on the field and contribute any way I can, whether it be on special teams or running or catching passes or blocking. Whatever it may be, I am just trying to get out there and play for my teammates and coaches."
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