Staff Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press Calhoun High School kicker Adam Griffith (99) nails a field goal putting them into overtime against Buford during the second half of play Friday evening at the Georgia Dome. The Yellow Jackets lost the Georgia class AA championship game to the Wolves for the third straight year with a final score of 24-31.
CALHOUN, Ga. -- A year from now Adam Griffith plans to have a nice, relaxed celebration as he signs scholarship papers to attend the University of Alabama. For a kicker, it's a rare opportunity to know this far ahead where your next stop will be. The Calhoun standout already has accepted an Alabama scholarship offer as a junior.
The Calhoun High School junior committed to the Crimson Tide at Junior Day last Saturday in Tuscaloosa, becoming one of the few kickers in the nation who have their collegiate future determined. For most kickers, even the great ones, national signing day can be a nerve-racking event.
Three kickers who preceded Griffith at Calhoun -- Jimmy Little, Andy Elackman and Scott Blair -- had to wait until late in their senior years to make their choices. Blair, the current Georgia Tech kicker, had to accept a perferred walk-on offer despite starring in high school.
Dalton all-state kicker Adrian Mora never got the SEC offer many thought was coming and is currently at Georgia Southern, where he earned All-America honors this past season.
That Griffith was able to get his offer -- and ones from Vanderbilt and LSU -- during his junior season was, according to Calhoun coach Hal Lamb, a tribute to the kicker's talent and the path he took to get to this point.
"It is unusual for a kicker to get such an early offer," Lamb said of his all-state kicker who made 10 field goals this season, including three from beyond 50 yards. "I think [college] coaches are starting to realize that kickers are very, very important. It shows just how good he is, but it also shows how important it is to get out there and show them what you can do."
Griffith attended several kicking camps over the past two years, including ones at Tennessee, Alabama and LSU as well as the Chris Sailer Top 12 camp last summer in Los Angeles, where Griffith earned the highest rating (5.0) among 2012 prospects.
"I had no idea I was going to be offered by my junior year, but I guess they liked that I did well in the camps and in competition," said Griffith, a native of Poland. "I first got noticed at the camp at Alabama, and Chris Sailer then invited me to his camp. The big thing is to get to as many of those camps and combines as you can."
College coaches are careful about offering kickers full scholarships.
"If you miss on a kicker," Lamb says, "it's not like you can play him at another position. They have to be really sure to offer someone as a junior, and I know they think Adam is a special talent. The good thing about evaluating a kicker is that they can perform their skills at a camp, whereas with a position player you can only do so much."
With his scholarship waiting for him, Griffith plans to continue to work to get better and concentrate on enjoying a successful senior season. He might even try to ease his transition to the college game.
"I'll keep working hard and practicing as hard as I can," he said. "And I may start kicking off the ground my senior year. It's going to be a fun year."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...