Dallas Griffiths was immediately intrigued by a scholarship offer from Maryland last spring, and his affinity for the Terps grew stronger after an official visit to College Park in September. But when it came to making a decision about his college future, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound middle linebacker abided by a strict timeline.
“He knew he didn’t want to drag it out too long, but at the same time, he wanted to take some visits and have an opportunity to discuss things with his family,” said Robert Craft, Griffiths' coach at North Florida Christian School in Tallahassee. “He was committed to finishing his high school career as well. Maryland was very respectful of all that. Maryland came down a number of times through the playoffs. They were content to let Dallas focus on playing the game. I think he took his time through all that. Once the season was over, he said ‘I’m just going to need a week or 10 days to know what I’m going to do.’ Once things settled down, it was clear in his mind: Maryland was what stood out to him.”
Griffiths committed to the Terps on Wednesday, just 12 days after he helped NFC (13-0) to a 69-0 win over St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut in the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 2A state championship game. The three-star prospect chose Maryland over offers from Central Florida, Liberty, South Florida and Southern Miss.
Griffiths came to NFC three years ago as a mature-beyond-his-years freshman. He had good linebacker role models in his father, Bobby, who played at Oklahoma State, and his brother, Chase, who signed with South Florida before eventually transferring to Liberty. Griffiths made the varsity as a ninth-grader and was inserted into the starting lineup as a sophomore.
Craft, who just finished his second season as the Eagles’ head coach, said Griffiths was the captain of his defense, the team’s leading tackler as a junior and senior, and a “prototypical middle linebacker.”
What stands out most about Griffiths is “his explosion and his speed,” Craft said. “He runs a great 40 time. He really can change directions well. He’s explosive in the weight room. I think he’s an all-around player as far as what Maryland sees. And they like his ability to play the run and also play the pass when you need to. But we’re proud of him.”
Maryland special teams coach Lyndon Johnson discovered Griffiths during a visit to Tallahassee last spring. Johnson checked out an NFC practice, got film on the linebacker and relayed the tape back to Terps coach Randy Edsall. Shortly thereafter, Maryland extended Griffiths his biggest scholarship offer to date. That offer, Craft said, immediately stood out to his star player.
“The idea of going somewhere with a new staff, being able to set the identity of a new program was very intriguing for Dallas,” Craft said. “I think Coach Edsall and Coach Johnson told him he was the type of guy to build a program around. He’s a great guy with great character and integrity. He’s going to do right on the field and off the field. He’s just a phenomenal player. Their connection with him pretty early really set Maryland at the top. He took a couple other visits, but I think all along Maryland remained at the top.”
Craft said Griffiths’ natural leadership qualities stood out to Edsall right away. The Maryland coach is looking for players to take control of the locker room, and Griffiths certainly fits that bill. Everything Craft has seen out of the future Terp over the past four years has been positive.
“What I’ll remember most about him is his … day-to-day commitment and grind and loyalty to what we’re about,” Craft said. “It’s the same thing Maryland is going to get – a guy committed to what Maryland wants to do and who comes every day ready to work.”