Earlier this month, Charlotte Latin kicker Paul Griggs was one of 90 senior football players from around the country to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Griggs, selected as a kicker for the East team, was also one of four nominees for the event's Felix "Doc" Blanchard Award, given to a player based on athletic and academic excellence and community service. In addition to being a good student, Griggs worked with Foundation for the Carolinas' Teen Impact Fund, a group of 25 high-schoolers in Charlotte that work together for a year and award up to $10,000 in grants to local groups and causes.
Offensive lineman Graham Shuler (Brentwood Academy, Ind.) won the award.
Griggs, ranked the No. 5 senior kicker in the country by Rivals.com, made four of six field goals for Latin this season and 34 PATs. He also kicked 26 touchbacks on kickoffs, and his 23 punts averaged 40 yards. He kicked a 57-yard field goal against North Cross (Va.) early in the season.
He is verbally committed to play at Purdue.
Postseason knee surgery kept Griggs from playing in the game.
Griggs sat down with South Charlotte News to talk about his experience at the bowl.
Q. When you found out you were selected for the Army All-American Bowl, what was your reaction?
A. I was really excited. It's been a lot of hard work going into it. It was a goal I set two years ago to be in it. It was really exciting that I was selected. And of course at the time I was still kicking and healthy and under the impression that I was going to play.
Q. Did finding out you weren't going to be able to play dampen the news?
A. It was tough not to be able to do and perform how I wanted to (during the high school season). A lot of people will look at the season and be like, 'Man, this kid's great, what's he talking about?' I had much, much different plans for my senior year, certainly nothing like this. It was pretty frustrating.
Q. Even though you couldn't play because of the injury, were you excited about going to the bowl?
A. It was easy to look at it as, I still got the honor and I don't have to risk getting hurt. I was just down there to have fun. I really enjoyed it, the guys down there were great.
The entire event was just over the top and fantastic. The game itself, I was able to be on the field, obviously, and I was with (Northwest Cabarrus kicker and punter) Bradley (Pinion) during warm-ups and was catching punts for him and stuff like that. I was on the sideline, and every time he came off after a good punt we'd do a high five.
Q. What was it like having Pinion, a friend and someone you know from this area, there with you?
A. That was tremendously helpful. I think things might have gone a little bit differently had he not been there, certainly because it was someone I didn't have to get to know. While the guys were great, it's always easier having someone you've known for a long time. I've been friends with Bradley since we were in sixth grade.
Q. How did it feel to be nominated for the Felix "Doc" Blanchard Award?
A. That was a really big thing for me. I was really surprised that I was nominated. The things they said I was nominated for, I never thought of it in that way. It was just stuff that I did. I didn't really think it was award-worthy.
Q. If you had to pick one moment that stood out to you, what would it be?
A. There's so many things, like the press conference and being in the pregame atmosphere. It was all the excitement but none of the pregame anxiety, and the game itself was a lot of fun. The autographs at every turn. Literally, I've never had that much attention from people I didn't know in my life.
Q. What's next for you?
A. I'm taking my official visit (to Purdue last weekend), and then signing day is right around the corner (Feb. 1) so I can make it official.
Probably by that point I'll be more in a workout mode than a rehab mode. I'll be up to the point where I can really start working out. Should be 100 percent good to go by May.