Yellow Jackets' Griffin earning new nickname for hard hits

ATLANTA — Stealthy, sneaky and downright scary, a danger lurks in Georgia Tech’s defensive backfield.

At least, that’s what Robert Hall thinks.

“We need to call him ‘The Assassin,’” Hall said of hard-hitting teammate Sedric Griffin. “That’s what I’m going to call him from now on.”

Paying homage to the linebacker’s propensity for handing out big hits, Hall is thankful he doesn’t have to feel the bone-rattling blows. He’s satisfied just watching from his defensive end position.

“Everyone knows Sed can hit,” Hall said.

But even playing on the same side of the ball doesn’t always save teammates from feeling The Assassin’s fury, fellow linebacker Brad Jefferson said.

“Oh yeah, we talk about (that nickname) all the time in the locker room,” Jefferson said. “Sedric Griffin, he doesn’t care if you’re on his team, on his side. If you’re in his way, he’s going to hit you. He’s hurt, like, three of our people by doing that. If you’re in his way, you better watch out for Sed, man.”

After Saturday, no Yellow Jackets player knows that better than quarterback Jaybo Shaw, who failed to keep his eyes peeled for the linebacker. Griffin’s victim on numerous occasions during Saturday’s T-Day game, Shaw saw his share of Bobby Dodd Stadium’s turf.

It didn’t matter if he was doling out option pitches, running on option keepers or dropping back trying to pass, Shaw routinely seemed to find Griffin’s No. 54 jersey diving toward him. Griffin’s Gold team ended up beating Shaw’s White team 31-28.

“Sed was on it (Saturday). He was flying around,” Shaw said. “The body’s holding up, it’s football. That’s one of the things I pride myself on in being an option quarterback, is taking a hit like that and getting right back up and going on for the next play. In a way, I kind of like it because it shows I’m tough.”

The sophomore signal-caller had plenty of opportunities this spring to display that toughness, as he and Georgia Tech’s other three quarterbacks were subjected to hard hits from Griffin and other defenders throughout the four-week spring practice period.

Critics of second-year head coach Paul Johnson’s offense have contended several injuries to his quarterbacks have resulted from the high frequency of tackles they take during practices and games.

Johnson has continually tried to discredit those statements, and he took another chance immediately following the game.

“They (quarterbacks) didn’t take any more hits (Saturday) than they did in practice,” Johnson said. “I think people make too much out of that. I really do. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’ve been playing that way for a very long time, and it’s never been an issue.

“And then when we get in the fall, a little bit of that is overhyped, too. It’s not like we hit those guys every day in practice. We hit above the waist, butt off of them. It’s not like we’re hitting them everyday.”

Even if he isn’t hitting quarterbacks on a daily basis, Griffin recognizes that his hits do sting.

“I apologize to Jaybo, I was just doing my job,” Griffin said, half serious and half smirking. “I was just trying to set the tone for this season, basically. I just want to come out and play hard like that everyday, just hit, hit, hit.

“And we want to let everyone know that this defense is for real. We’re here for the long haul, and not just the first half of the season, but the whole 12 games, 14 games or how many ever games we end up playing.”