The kid with the most famous name on the Arizona Wildcats football roster doesn’t act like it. Trey Griffey is just one of 105 in camp.
The name on the back of the jersey doesn’t mean anything.
“His last name might get somebody to look at him, but people aren’t going to notice you just because of your name,” said Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez.
“You have to do it on your own. And he’s worked hard. Trey has a good future. He’s still learning. I like what I’ve seen from him in practice.”
Whether or not that puts Griffey somewhere in the back end of the playing rotation at wide receiver remains to be seen, but he was one of the most popular interview subjects Sunday during Arizona Media Day, which was the first time newcomers were allowed to be interviewed.
The resemblance to his dad is striking. It’s a little bit like looking at Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1989 Upper Deck rookie card.
Trey (6-3, 187) grew up in baseball stadiums as his father built a Hall of Fame career with the Seattle Mariners in the 1990s and later through some injury-filled seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. But Trey said he gave up his dad’s sport as he entered high school, focusing on football, simply choosing his own path with his parent’s blessing.
“Just have fun,” he said of his dad’s advice. “That was the biggest thing my dad told me.”
Trey might have been having fun playing football but, even as the son of a famous athlete, he wasn’t much of a recruit until he transferred from West Orange High in Winter Garden, Fla., to powerhouse Dr. Phillips High in Orlando before his senior season. He also started going to football camps, including one in Indiana (which would prove fortuitous for the Wildcats).
“It really started when I went to a 7-on-7 tournament in Plant City (Fla.),” Griffey said.
“It was my first 7-on-7 tournament as far as being with Dr. Phillips. I ended up scoring like 20 touchdowns in five games, and I really blew up. It showed that I have potential. That really helped me.”
He carried that momentum through his senior season, setting school records with 72 catches for 970 yards and becoming a three-star recruit. He landed on Rodriguez’s radar because the head coach heavily recruited players from Dr. Phillips while at West Virginia and Michigan, and new UA quarterbacks coach Rod Smith had already established a relationship with Griffey.
They had met while at that camp at Indiana University, where Smith spent last season.
And then RichRod closed the deal.
“That was a nice home visit,” Rodriguez said with a smile. “That was one of the nicest homes I have been to. But it wasn’t treated like anything different.”
Treated like nothing different. That suits the kid of The Kid.
“Trey works,” senior receiver Dan Buckner said earlier in camp.
“He doesn’t talk about his dad. Trey is Trey. He’s not his dad. He’s his own person. He lives his own life. He came here to play football, make his own legacy.”
He might someday do that — might start to do that this season — but, at this stage, it’s impossible not to pepper him with questions about his dad.
But while the rest of the world sees his dad as Ken Griffey Jr., to Trey he’s just the guy who is going to coming to Arizona Stadium this season to watch him play, the guy who attends all his sister Taryn’s basketball games at Dr. Phillips, who helps coach his brother Tevin’s Pop Warner team.
“Of course, he is a professional athlete, future Hall of Famer, but I see him as my dad,” Trey said. “That’s all I see.”
Rodriguez says he sees a humble, grounded player.
“He learned from his dad how to conduct yourself. Trey is probably more prepared for this type of environment than anybody,” Rodriguez said.
“With a guy like his dad — certainly a Hall of Famer and one of the best who’s ever played — people forget or probably don’t realize how hard Ken Griffey Jr. worked to get to where he was. That work ethic is instilled in all of his kids.”