Griffin wearing No. 2, but 17 still looking good
TAMPA -- Carlton Mitchell had the jersey first, then Quenton Washington for two more years, but USF junior receiver Sterling Griffin is proud to trade his No. 17 jersey in to wear No. 2 for the Bulls this fall.
"I had to be patient and wait until my time came," said Griffin, whose father Steve wore the same No. 2 as a receiver at Purdue from 1982-85 (see photo). "I wanted a new start -- injured with 17, so I wanted to start fresh. Come back healthy, new number, new change, new focus."
Griffin missed the entire 2010 season after dislocating his ankle, then missed four games last season with a broken foot, so it's understandable that he might like discarding No. 17 for more than just family nostalgia. With No. 2 unavailable, he had worn 17 as a nod to NFL receivers Braylon Edwards and Mike Wallace, but now with the single digit, he feels a confidence with the new identity.
"I feel faster. I look better, too," Griffin joked.
So USF coach Skip Holtz found himself seeing a receiver wearing No. 17 making big plays in Tuesday's first fall practice, only to remind himself it was talented freshman D'Vario Montgomery, not Griffin, who was USF's top receiver last year with 43 catches for 530 yards. Montgomery, a prized recruit from Winter Park, is one of the freshmen with the best chances of playing immediately this fall, despite strong returning depth at receiver for USF.
"I must have said 'Great job, Sterling' 10 times today, and he's like 'Coach, I'm 2,'" Holtz said. "I said 'Well, everybody's going to say 'You got a whole lot better this year.' And he goes 'But they're also going to ask who's No. 2?'"
Holtz will spend much of the next few weeks deciding which freshmen will skip redshirts this fall, but he said Montgomery, defensive end Eric Lee, tight end Sean Price and linebacker Tashon Whitehurst have good chances entering fall drills, based on their abililties and the opportunities at their positions.
(Thanks much to Purdue University Athletic Communications for the archive photo of Steve Griffin)