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Guided by a legend

This Florida high school quarterback attends classes past 2:30 in the afternoon.

After taking tests on the practice field and pop quizzes on game days, he goes home to study. Brian Griese does his homework in front of the television, with consent and help from his in-house tutor, of course.

You read the surname correctly. Brian's tutor is Bob Griese, former Miami Dolphin, current NFL Hall-of-Famer and Quarterback Professor. Father and son are best known for their physical and mental talents, for their diligent work habits and for calculating how to pass the next exam.

Of Griese's three sons, Brian is the youngest and the only one to inherit the play-caller position. As a senior at Miami's Christopher Columbus High School, 17-year-old Brian could be one of the premier recruits in the city, if not the state, according to some Miami high school coaches. If that proves true, Griese might just be planting new footsteps on his father's path _ steps that could be larger and deeper than his father's.

"Brian's best asset is how intelligent he is," Columbus quarterback coach Mark Swanson said. "He has the potential to be a much better quarterback than his father, and I think Bob might even agree. And with a Hall-of-Famer, I guess that's saying a lot. Brian may not realize that."

As for Brian's potential, Griese passes that off as mere speculation.

"Brian's still a high school quarterback," Griese said. "He has a lot more to learn about the game."

But still he believes the comparisons have some validity. Dubbed the "Chess Master" and the "Thinking Man's Quarterback," when he quarterbacked the Dolphins to two Super Bowl championships during his 1967-1980 career, Griese acknowledges a similar studiousness in his son.

"That may come from the fact that we're not real gifted, with speed or size," Griese said.

"We're very much alike in the intellectual department; we're not blessed with the best abilities," agreed Brian. "But my dad has such a great mind for the game."

While Brian's secret weapon also rests within the helmet, he holds an advantage over his father. "He has a much stronger arm than his dad and he's much bigger," Swanson said. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds (Bob is 6 feet, 180), the youngest Griese powers over defenses with his right-arm rifle, and he can also scramble past them with surprising agility.

"The thing that impresses me about him isn't that he doesn't throw the ball away and make bad plays. He'll throw away from the defense, not just into the crowd _ and that's something you can't teach," said the elder Griese, Brian's closest critic.

What Griese can teach is how to read defenses and avoid blitzes.

Just as he once prepared meticulously for games at Purdue or with the Dolphins, Griese now studies assiduously for his weekly college football broadcasts on ABC Sports. In between, he spends time studying Columbus tapes, imbuing in Brian _ as he did in his older two sons _ the common-sense philosophy: "The more you know, the better you'll play."

"He's been a real help," Brian said. "He's taught me how to look at film. But he doesn't give advice; he points things out and if I take it, great, if not, he doesn't care."

In much the same manner, Griese, 47, never pushed his three sons to play football. His oldest son, Scott, 24, was a defensive back at Virginia, while Jeff, 22, played as a linebacker and running back at North Carolina. Brian played linebacker until the seventh grade.

The transition to quarterback was natural. In ninth grade, Griese played on junior varsity. (Keep in mind that Columbus rosters are renowned for such alums as Alonzo Highsmith and Mike Shula.) But the next year, he came in to replace the injured starter, throwing a touchdown pass in his first game and four total for the season. Last year as a junior, he directed Dade County's best rushing offense that averaged 32 points a game, while compiling 956 passing yards and eight touchdowns himself. Already he has 374 yards (30-of-57) and one touchdown in the first two games of the 1992 season.

"I definitely believe I have more of an advantage than other quarterbacks. They go out and play. I think," Brian said.

In Columbus' 35-14 opening loss to Southridge, Griese performed as well as possible with a rookie offensive line and an equally inexperienced main receiver. In the waning minutes of the second half, he effortlessly launched a 74-yard, over-the-outside-shoulder touchdown pass. It was a play that followed two short passes and was designed to decoy the defense. Later in the game, Griese showed his versatility by gliding out of the pocket to gain 18 yards.

His team is now 1-1 and hoping to better last year's 8-2 mark, but Griese is setting no number goals. He has two priorities for 1992-'93: "I'm concerned with my grades and concerned that, as a team, we do well," Griese said, placing the priorities in order. Griese holds a 3.7 grade point average, boasts an 1170 SAT score and belongs to the National Honor Society.

Because of his academic bent, Griese insists on "getting out of Miami" as well as the state of Florida. Purdue? "Um too big," he laughs, when pressed on the matter of attending his father's alma mater. His top choices are Stanford _ where he attended Bill Walsh's quarterback camp this summer, Michigan and perhaps Virginia and Duke. According to Swanson, Walsh's camp rated Griese the top quarterback among 100 others _ and Stanford is seriously considering him.

Griese wouldn't mind seeing his son at Stanford, mainly because of its superior academics. "I told all my sons not to plan on being like me. When I was (Brian's) age, I didn't even expect to go to college. I just told them to get a good degree, a good education. The other things that happened would be a bonus."

Dedicating himself to his studies might enable Brian to satisfy this plan. Some of Griese's teammates review films at home, but rarely do they analyze film from previous years, rarely do they have a constant teacher and companion on the sideline.

In 1988, Griese's wife, Judi, passed away after a battle with cancer. Since then, Brian and his father have been able to grow away from the gridiron.

"Our relationship is a lot deeper than football," Brian says succinctly, not choosing to elaborate.

Bob Griese does not restrict his teaching to his sons. He has offered his expertise to the entire Explorer squad for the past ten years, when his sons were at Columbus.

"You don't meet that type of person often," Swanson said, praising's Griese's teaching ability and high standards. "He's a perfectionist. Brian's not that obsessed, but on the other hand, he has better skills than his father."

"They're real quiet people," added Swanson. "Unless you know Brian, he seems rather stand-offish. I just wish he would take an active leadership role, but that's not his way."

Opposing coaches think Brian is too active on the field. His ascetic practice habits _ "I like baseball and golf, but other than school and football, I guess I don't have time to do anything else." _ and his cleverness provide the leading examples for his team.

"He's tall, reads well and is able to make things happen out there. And he's dangerous when he calls audibles," Southridge coach Don Soldinger said. "He's obviously discussed football at dinner."

Meanwhile, others may be discussing the Griese name at their table.

"He's not the first nor the last son who will have to bear the heavy name of his father," Griese said. "My other sons dealt with it and I'm sure Brian will, too. He's level-headed and can learn from it."