ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Ken Griffey Jr. addresses the media as the recipient of the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award presented by MLB commissioner Bud Selig prior to Game Four of the MLB World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Trey Griffey isn’t Rich Rodriguez’s first recruit signing as Arizona head football coach, but the wide receiver is certainly the most noteworthy.
As the son of one of the most celebrated outfielders in Major League Baseball history, Griffey’s addition turns a spotlight on Wildcat football – something past recruiting classes have sorely lacked. National Signing Day has become a true spectacle in recent years, and UA will have some attention on it come next Wednesday.
ESPNU devotes its entire morning and midday of coverage to it, and standing out on that national platform sends an important message of relevance. Said message resonates with boosters, the fan base, pundits and most significantly, future recruits.
Recruiting is a form of marketing. Coaches sell their programs to potential signees, and part of the sales pitch is a media campaign. Perception goes a long way – where would Nike be without its marketing tactics and "Just Do It?"
The presence of Ken Griffey Jr., future first ballot Hall of Famer, alongside his son and Rodriguez, exudes big-time perception. And really, a Hall of Fame athlete as a Signing Day representative trumps even Alabama and its web cam cheerleaders from a year ago.
Of course, this is about Trey and not Ken. And as is the case with any recruit, Griffey’s signing is meaningless if his on-field production fails to match the hype. Fortunately, he should prove a welcome addition to Rodriguez’s spread offense.
Griffey is a 3-star recruit according to according to Rivals.com, but could be undervalued. He truly broke out as a senior at Orlando’s Dr. Phillips High. MaxPreps.com has him catching nearly 14 yards per opportunity for 883 yards, and scored 11 touchdowns. His production earned him an invitation to this month’s Under Armour All-America game alongside such nationally heralded recruits as Wes Brown and Cyrus Jones.
When it comes to Griffey’s style, it’s like father, like son: Griffey’s UA performance exhibited some of the breathtaking athleticism his dad was known for while patrolling the Kingdome outfield as a Seattle Mariner. Trey has a similar long, lanky frame at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, and in this highlight video, shows off the same kind of speed and hands that produced moments like this.
This could prove to be the first domino falling in an impressive receiver haul. The Wildcat staff is pursuing Chaparral High prospect Davonte Neal, a speedster and slot receiver in the mold of Oregon’s standout D’Anthony Thomas.
Freshmen are having increasingly significant impacts from the onset of their college careers. Thomas and USC’s Marqise Lee were shining examples of how important first-year receivers can be, each contributing at All-American levels for top 20 offenses. UA could boast the next phenom in this class.