I hate to say it, but Nick Griffin’s career is turning out a lot like Robert Elliot’s at MSU. Both with tremendous promise, but derailed due to injury and resigned to a backup role and one carry per game.
Elliot ended his career with just 540 yards, never gaining more than 221 in a season. In three years Griffin is on pace for about the same with 409 yards – his career high at 223 last year. He’s had two major knee injuries that have slowed him down and going into his senior year he looks like he won’t be much of a factor at running back like Elliot’s last year (12 carries for 37 yards in 2011).
Josh Robinson is poised to be the featured back in 2014. Ashton Shumpert will most likely be #2. Shump had 18 more carries than Griffin did this fall, and he looks ready and willing to make some noise at tailback as a sophomore. What’s more, Aeries Williams comes in from the high school ranks and it will be hard to keep him on the bench redshirting. I haven’t even mentioned Derrick Milton.
I would hate for Nick Griffin to fade out at the tailback spot like Elliot did. What might be an answer for him is fullback.
2013 was the first year under Mullen with no fullback on the roster. Maybe that was by design, but with so many running backs and an option attack, a fullback can’t be a bad thing to have. Even if his 6′-0″, 225 body isn’t prototypical for it, he could put on a few pounds and develop into a big asset next year.
Maybe Griff will get fully healthy and break out in his senior season, but based on the situation I’m not going to bank on it. Fullback could be an area for him to make a bigger contribution.