National Signing Day probably won’t be as eventful this year as it has been in the past. Most of the top prospects in the class of 2018 ended their recruitments by sending in their National Letter of Intent during the end of the new 72-hour early signing period last month. But there remain coveted prospects in the class who have yet to finalize their college decisions, including four with five-star ratings, according to the 247Sports Composite. SI.com is breaking down each one of them before the cycle effectively draws to a close on Feb. 7. We’ve already looked at Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell, and Nicholas Petit-Frere. Next up is Olaijah Griffin.
Fast Facts: Olaijah Griffin
247Sports Composite rank: No. 28 overall, No. 3 CB
Height/weight: 6'0"/170 pounds
High School: Mission Viejo (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
Griffin is the top uncommitted player in the talent-stuffed state of California. The two players ranked ahead of him are both headed to USC: Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and quarterback JT Daniels. Griffin was named the Los Angeles Times’ “back of the year” in December after powering Mission Viejo to a 12–1 record while contributing on both sides of the ball. According to the paper, he tallied 49 tackles and two interceptions on defense and caught 33 passes for 874 yards with 12 touchdowns on offense. Griffin also made the first-team defense on MaxPreps’ All-America team and he was selected to participate in the Under Armour All-America Game. “He has a ton of upside and projects as a true lock down cover corner capable of playing next fall,” 247Sports analyst Greg Biggins wrote in early January of Griffin. On a non-football note, Griffin is the son of West Coast rap artist Warren G.
Griffin issued a verbal commitment to UCLA last July, but he decided not to sign with the Bruins during the early window. He reopened his recruitment in late December and reportedly named Tennessee his leader, but the Volunteers will have to fend off USC to reel in Griffin. He visited Alabama over the final weekend of January, which followed a previous visit to Oregon earlier in the month, and he’s expected to announce his decision on signing day.
How he fits
It’s easy to see Griffin ending up at the crosstown rival of the program to which he initially pledged. USC has compiled the Pac-12’s top class at this point of the cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite, and it remains the most attractive destination for a large portion of the blue-chip prospects in the state. The Trojans signed only one recruit in December classified as a defensive back by 247Sports—four-star Eleanor Roosevelt (Calif.) High cornerback Chase Williams—but four-star Crescent Valley (Ore.) High athlete Talanoa Hufanga also is expected to play in the defensive backfield for USC, which could be set to add Griffin as well as the only other uncommitted top-five recruit from California, four-star Helix High cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart. (The state’s No. 6 prospect, four-star Antelope Valley High wide receiver Devon Williams, is also in play.)
Getting Griffin in the fold would be a huge win for new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. The Volunteers may not seem like they have a compelling pitch compared to nearby powerhouse USC, which has developed a reputation for making major additions late in the cycle and can offer both a better recent on-field track record and the comfort of not traveling too far from home. But Griffin described an official visit he took to Knoxville in December as “amazing” and has family members in the area. If he were to pick Tennessee, Griffin would be the highest ranked prospect in its class. Neither USC nor the Volunteers can counter Alabama’s biggest selling point, its recent on-field track record, while Oregon is transitioning under its second first-year head coach in as many years.